Salina – There was an empty seat in Sacred Heart Cathedral during the annual Chrism Mass March 22. The bishop’s cathedra remained unoccupied, because the Salina Diocese has no bishop. Bishop Carl Kemme presided over the Mass, and sat toward the front of the sanctuary, but not in the bishop’s cathedra. “Brothers and sisters, my name is Bishop Carl Kemme from the Diocese of Wichita and I now belong to a new program in the Church called ‘rent a bishop,’ ” Bishop Kemme quipped.
During his homily, Bishop Kemme addressed the diocese’s absence of a bishop. He said he often thinks of the Advent song “Soon and Very Soon” when he thinks of the vacancy. “Perhaps no one is praying that more fervently than Father Frank Coady. I can hear it resonate from his heart every time I see him,” Bishop Kemme said. “Yes, let it be soon so that your diocesan community of faith can once again have an apostolic shepherd as the Lord envisioned for the Church when he sent out the apostles on the day of pentecost to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the world.”
Canon law requires each diocese to hold a Chrism Mass annually to bless and dispense new oil for sacramental use throughout the upcoming year. “(Jesus) left us the mission, the charge to heal the sick, to comfort the broken hearted, to set captives free and to announce a year of favor from the Lord,” Bishop Kemme said. “The oils that will soon be blessed and consecrated will soon be used in this very ministry entrusted to us by Jesus.”
The three oils blessed during the Chrism Mass are: Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens and Sacred Chrism. The Oil of the Sick is used in the sacrament of Anointing of the sick. The Oil of the Catechumens is used in preparation for Baptism. Sacred Chrism is used for Confirmation, is used to anoint a priest’s hands during his ordination, is used to anoint a bishop’s head at his ordination, and also is used to anoint the altar and walls of a new Church.
The newly blessed oil was used March 31 during the Easter Vigil to anoint newly initiated members of the Catholic Church. “May these oils be oils of gladness, diffusing the Lord’s presence, his healing touch and his powerful, life-changing action to many throughout this part of the Lord’s vineyard,” Kemme said.
Following the homily, Bishop Kemme blessed the oil that will be used in all 86 parishes throughout the diocese for the upcoming year. “(We ask) the Lord to bless the oils brought for consecration, anointing and healing,” Bishop Kemme said. “At the same time, to invite your priests to renew their priestly commitment before you as your shepherds.”
Following the blessing of the oil, all priests present renewed their priestly vows. “We are here today as descendants of those first disciples, hearing the Lord’s call to follow him and to offer our lives in service to our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Kemme said during his homily. “We, like them 21 centuries later step out onto the landscape of our human experience and we also know that there is among us great broken heartedness, intense loneliness and sorrow, incredible captivity and imprisonment and overwhelming discord and hate. “Before Jesus ascended to the Father when his earthly ministry was complete, he entrusted lovingly that ministry to weak and sinful men. First the apostles, and (then) those who had come after them to collaborate with them — the priests of the Church.”
As he concluded, Bishop Kemme reflected on the use of the oil. “For all of us priests deacons and laity alike, may we in our own unique contexts and circumstances may we anoint those with whom we share life,” he said. “May we be an anointing with the oil of gladness. Anointing with kindness and gentleness, patience, forgiveness, peace and love. For when we do and when we are such an anointing, Christ walks and works among us anew.”