Salina — It was another first for Bishop Jerry Vincke when he consecrated and blessed oil at the annual Chrism Mass April 11 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. “I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous as a new bishop, presiding at my first Chrism Mass here,” Bishop Vincke said.
The bishop reflected briefly on his eight months in the diocese. “I really love it here, I love this diocese,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous joy to meet so many of you as I travel.” While this is his first time presiding as a bishop at the Chrism Mass, it’s a liturgical celebration Bishop Vincke said he always enjoyed. “For me, I always look forward to this moment in the Chrism Mass, an opportunity to renew our promises,” he said.
All priests present renewed the vows made during their ordination. Bishop Vincke highlighted five priests celebrating jubilee anniversaries. Father Roger Meitl and Father Alvin Werth are celebrating 60 years; Father James Dallen and Capuchin Father Earl Befort are celebrating 50 and Father Henry Saw Lone is celebrating 25 years.
“Between the five of them, that’s 245 years of priestly service,” Bishop Vincke said.
“I know the priests are excited to renew their promises they made many years ago on the day of their ordination, but I think they’re more excited knowing there is a roast beef dinner waiting for them right after Mass,” the bishop quipped. “I think they want me to hurry up.”
Bishop offered a few brief reflections for the clergy, who were renewing their vows. First, he said, pray for the Church. “We an often think that the work we have to do is more important than prayer. The truth is that prayer is the most important pastoral priority that we have,” Bishop Vincke said. “When we pray, sometimes God can be very silent, but he is working in the midst of our prayer.”
The next reflection involved obedience to the bishop and his successors. “I’ve been on the other side of that fence,” Bishop Vincke said. “It’s a beautiful gift, obedience, because it unites all of us into the one body in Christ, to the heart of the Church. It really is a matter of not repressing one’s desires or opinions, but all for the good of the Church or the diocese.”
The final reflection was on celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. “What a gift it is to imitate Christ our Lord for the sake of the kingdom,” he said. “This is not a rejection of the goodness of marriage. It builds it up. It’s a sign for all of us, for the whole world, that the kingdom of God is worth giving our lives to. Everything we have and we are. “So please pray for our priests. Pray for me. Pray for more vocations to the priesthood.”
The Chrism Mass is celebrated prior to Easter. During the celebration, a bishop consecrates the Chrism Oil and blesses the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Infirm. “These oils will be used to administer the sacraments throughout the whole year, especially at the Easter Vigil,” Bishop Vincke said. “Nothing in life gets me more excited than when someone joins the Church or has an encounter with Jesus.” The Holy Chrism Oil is used in baptism, confirmation and holy orders. Oil of the Catechumens is used for baptism and the reception into the Church, and the Oil of the Infirm is used in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
One question he is often asked as the bishop travels throughout the diocese is “What is your vision for the diocese?” he said. “The vision in a nut shell is quite simple — that we as Christ’s faithful become disciples of Jesus, and that we go and make disciples. To bring them to the love of Jesus,” Bishop Vincke said. “There are so many people, so many who do not know or don’t think that God could possibly love them. You and I need to bring them to (Jesus’) healing presence.”