Bishop Rozanski ushers in Holy Week at St. Joseph with Chrism Mass


Photo Gallery | Presentation of the holy oils at St. Joseph's Church

PITTSFIELD — As Berkshire Christians prepare for Easter, dozens of area Catholics gathered at St. Joseph Church on Tuesday evening to receive holy oils to anoint the sick and be used for baptism and confirmation throughout the county.

The Chrism Mass, a unique Holy Week celebration, was celebrated by the Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

"The oil of the sick, oil of catechumens, oil of chrism put into perspective of who we are called before God," Rozanski said during his homily.

With help from local deacons, Rozanski presented the three oils that were blessed and consecrated Monday evening at the Cathedral of St. Michael in Springfield and will be used throughout the church year. The first oil is used to anoint adults and infants; the second for anointing the sick, and the sacred oil of chrism for baptism, confirmation, the ordination of priests, and the consecration of altars.

All three are made from olive oil noted for its purity as well as ties to the Holy Land, according to diocesan officials.

"Being anointed or set apart, means that we have been given the mandate to live for Jesus by the witness of our lives," Rozanski said in remarks to The Eagle. "Having been consecrated to [Jesus] here on earth, then we are prepared for living forever with him in the fullness of his glory in heaven."

The young Berkshire men and women preparing to be confirmed this spring were among those who attended the special Mass.

"To be confirmed now means you're taking an adult role in Christianity," said the Most Rev. Timothy McDonnell in an Eagle interview.

The bishop emeritus retired to St. Joseph Parish nearly two years ago, after 10 years as the Springfield diocese's spiritual leader. He was formally succeed by Rozanski in August 2014.

McDonnell noted anointing with oil dates back to the time of Moses and is one of the ancient of all rituals — even for the installation of royalty.

"To this day I am old enough to remember Queen Elizabeth II when she had an oil poured on her head," he said.

Decades ago, the late Most Rev. Joseph Maguire began the tradition of the Springfield bishop presenting the sacred oils at a separate Berkshire Mass. Originally just one Chrism Mass, held traditionally on Holy Thursday morning at St. Michael excluded most lay persons from attending.

Diocesan officials say Maguire recognized the importance of the holy oils their interaction with the church community, moving the Chrism Mass to Monday of Holy Week and adding the Mass at St. Joseph.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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