Priests gather for annual Chrism Mass

Priests extend their hands, joining the cardinal in the consecration of the chrism oil. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

SOUTH END -- As they gathered for an annual celebration of their priestly vocation and ministry, the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston heard words of encouragement from their archbishop.

On March 30, around 300 priests from the archdiocese gathered as they do each year during Holy Week for the Chrism Mass and luncheon following.

The Chrism Mass is held annually during Holy Week to bless the sacred oils that will be used throughout the year for anointing the sick, baptisms, confirmations and ordinations.

The day is also seen as an opportunity to celebrate priestly fraternity. During the Mass, priests renewed their priestly promises and afterwards gathered for a luncheon with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley. This year’s luncheon was highlighted by a reflection by Father John Connelly, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, titled “Christ: the Great High Priest.”

As he does most years, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston attended the Mass in a sign of solidarity with the Catholic clergy.

In his homily, Cardinal O’Malley discussed the lessons of the recent sexual abuse crisis, highlighted how the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero is an example for today’s priests to follow, and offered encouragement and advice on how to be a holier priest.

“God is trying to get our attention,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “What is needed in our Church is holy priests, now more than ever.”

“The greatest crisis we have experienced in the history of the Church continues to weigh upon us all,” Cardinal O’Malley added. “It is a wake-up call, an urgent appeal to live a life of holiness.”

He said that Catholics simply want holy priests.

This year, the Church marked the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero, who was killed on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass in San Salvador.

Cardinal O’Malley praised Archbishop Romero for his thoughtfulness, pointing out that he examined his conscience deeply. Cardinal O’Malley also lauded him for how he took spiritual direction and his “deep” faith and prayer life.

Cardinal O’Malley offered three ways that priests can be more holy. He said he will ask every priest of the archdiocese to make an annual retreat, join a priest support group, and develop a personal rule of life.

Cardinal O’Malley said that retreats offer time for silence, prayer, and spiritual direction, and cited priest support groups as ways for priests to regularly gather to support one another, pray, and provide one another with spiritual direction. A rule of life, according to him, allows for balance between work, friends, family, and prayer, and also allows priests to care for their health including proper diet, exercise, and sleep.

“A rule of life is a game plan for a balanced existence and to guarantee we have time and space for God in our lives,” Cardinal O’Malley said.

Father Steve Rock, pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Reading, reacted positively to Cardinal O’Malley’s three suggestions.

“It’s a winning combination,” Father Rock said. “The sad thing is there are a lot of guys who don’t do all these things because we get so wrapped up in our ministry.”

“If guys did all those things it would change their attitude,” he added. “It would make holy priests who are concerned about God’s work but not their own.”

Father Rock credited priest support groups for building priestly fraternity, speaking from his involvement with them in a previous assignment as an armed forces chaplain.

“Cardinal Seán gave us, as he said, a ‘wake-up call,’” said Father Paul Sullivan, parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Needham. “We’ve got to grow deeper in our priesthood, and deeper in our prayer life with Jesus himself, the great High Priest.”

Father George Evans, pastor of St. Julia Parish in Weston said he enjoyed the spiritual nature of the day.

“It’s great to get spiritual nourishment that gets us ready for the high point of the year -- a time for giving and receiving the grace of Christ,” said Father Evans. “Christ is the priest and we are participants in what is uniquely his.”

“It keeps us from being consumed by mere practicalities and worries,” he added. “It also reminds us we are a fraternity of priests. We serve separately and we’re spread over the Archdiocese of Boston, but we are one. This expresses the truth that we are a union.”

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...