Sheila Grove

ERIE — The Chrism Mass, one of the most solemn and important liturgies of the year, is held in the Diocese of Erie on Monday of Holy Week; this year on March 29. It is a celebration of the priesthood instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper when he commissioned the Apostles to "do this in memory of me."

Bishop Lawrence Persico blesses the oil of the infirm in 2019.  At the
Chrism Mass, he also blesses the sacred chrism, to which he will add an
essence, and the oil of the catechumens.      Photo/Sheila Grove

           During the Mass, those present renew their baptismal promises and priests reaffirm their ministry by renewing the promises made at their ordination.

          The Mass is called the Chrism Mass because the sacramental oils used for baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and ordinations throughout the liturgical year are blessed by the bishop. After the Mass, they are distributed to all parishes in the diocese.

          Typically, groups of Catholics representing all members of the diocese present the oils to the bishop to be blessed. This part of the service will be eliminated this year, as it was last year, due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

          Observing protocols also means in-person participation will be restricted to priests. As they were not able to attend last year, Bishop Persico looks forward to giving them the opportunity to renew their promises together this year.

          Fortunately, thanks to livestreaming capabilities, the public is invited and welcome to join in virtually. The Mass will be streamed by St. Peter Cathedral at, and Saint Peter Cathedral Erie Pa - YouTube simultaneously and shared by the Diocese of Erie at and can be watched at any time. The St. Peter website is an easy way to find the archived videos.

          This beautiful and meaningful ceremony is a privilege for Catholics. It represents the history and the legacy in which all participate. Because of being able to experience it from home this year, many may choose to add this prayerful event to their Holy Week plan in the future. 

Bishop Lawrence Persico breathes over the sacred
chrism as a 
gesture of the Holy Spirit consecrating
the oil which will be used 
in the sacraments of
baptism, confirmation and holy orders, 
and for
consecrating churches.    Photo/Sheila Grove

          In most dioceses, this Mass is held on Holy Thursday. The Diocese of Erie is so geographically vast, that priests would not be able to attend and then return to their own parishes in time to celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper, Holy Thursday evening. 

Priests gathered to renew the promises they made at 
ordination, witnessed by the diocesan community
at the 
Chrism Mass in 2019.              Photo/Sheila Grove