Bishop O'Connell prepares to consecrate the Sacred Chrism by mixing a fragrant balsam with the oil. The Sacred Chrism is used for the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of altars and churches.
Bishop O'Connell prepares to consecrate the Sacred Chrism by mixing a fragrant balsam with the oil. The Sacred Chrism is used for the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of altars and churches.
Sharing a message of hope on the day the Universal Church commemorates the birth of the Church, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., reminded faithful of the Diocese that Pentecost “is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises and we are the eternal beneficiaries.”

“The Holy Spirit continues to make God’s presence felt in the Church in all the moments of our lives, giving his Gifts, empowering the community of faith. Pentecost is a ‘forever experience’ that touches us deeply, guiding us to ‘all Truth’ as we make our way through life,” Bishop O’Connell said in the homily he preached for the Solemnity of Pentecost Mass May 31 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop celebrates Mass for Pentecost

Pentecost is liturgically celebrated 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection and 10 days after his Ascension into Heaven. It recalls when the person of the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered in the Upper Room. The Mass was celebrated without a congregation but was livestreamed on diocesan websites and social media platforms.

After the homily, Bishop O’Connell consecrated and blessed the Holy Oils to be used in parishes throughout the year during the conferral of Sacraments. The Holy Oils, which are the Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumen and Sacred Chrism, are usually consecrated and blessed during the Chrism Mass, which in the Trenton Diocese, is traditionally celebrated on the Monday of Holy Week. This year’s Chrism Mass, however, was not celebrated publicly because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Oil of the Sick, which the Bishop blessed, is used to anoint the sick, bringing strength, comfort and forgiveness to those in need. The Oil of the Catechumens, which the Bishop also blessed, is used to strengthen those preparing for Baptism to avoid sin and grow in their faith. The Sacred Chrism, which the Bishop consecrated, is used for the conferral of Baptism, Confirmation, ordination of priests and bishops, and the consecration of altars and churches.

When Bishop O’Connell consecrated the Sacred Chrism, he added a fragrant balsam to the oil and then blew over the vessel, signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit. Oils will be distributed to parishes based on schedules coordinated through the Office of Worship and parish pastors.

“On this ‘birthday of the Church,’ Pentecost, we should be grateful for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and should strive to show anew and always, by the way we live our Christian lives, the ‘love of God poured into our hearts,’” said Bishop O’Connell, who was joined at the altar by Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, diocesan vicar general; Msgr. Sam Sirianni, Co-Cathedral rector, and Father Arian Wharff, Co-Cathedral parochial vicar. In addition, Father Jason Parzynski, diocesan director of vocations; Father Michael Hall, director of the diocesan Office of Worship, and Father Christopher Dayton, parochial vicar in St. Rose Parish, Belmar, served as masters of ceremony to the Bishop.

In closing remarks after Holy Communion, Bishop O’Connell spoke about the restoration of in-church, public weekend Masses in the Diocese starting the weekend of June 13-14. The Bishop reiterated the restrictions that must be followed, including the limited number of people permitted to attend each Mass; the number of Masses that a parish may offer; the wearing of face masks and the practice of social distancing. More information, he said, may be found on the diocesan website and TrentonMonitor.com.

Bishop O’Connell also noted that the dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, which has been effective since late March, will continue until Sept. 7.

“Those who are fearful, those who are not feeling well, those who are possibly carriers but asymptomatic, those who are in every high-risk category, should avoid any public gatherings, especially indoor gatherings,” he said.

The Bishop also noted upcoming diocesan events, including the Memorial Mass that he will celebrate at 2 p.m. June 17.  During that Mass, intentions will be offered for all people who have died since March 1, 2020. The Bishop said he invited all pastors of the Diocese to submit the names of the deceased in their respective parishes. The Mass will be livestreamed and celebrated without a congregation.

A smile crossed Bishop O’Connell’s face when he said he had some good news to share. On June 20, he will ordain six men to the diaconate – one man will be ordained a transitional deacon and five men to the permanent diaconate. On June 27, the Bishop will ordain Deacon Stephen Sansevere to the priesthood. Both Masses of Ordination, to be celebrated in the Co-Cathedral, are not open to the public but by ticket only.

“Much that we’re doing in the Church is so unusual, so different than what we would like,” Bishop O’Connell said. “But I know I can count on you to be responsive and respectful of all the directives and also to be responsive in praying for all of us in the Diocese, that we continue to love and serve the Lord as he calls us to, as the Holy Spirit calls us to, especially in these difficult days.”