Priestly commitment, diocesan unity to be highlights of annual Chrism Mass

Livestream of Mass set for March 25, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
March 22, 2024 at 2:11 p.m.


Whether it’s attending in-person or viewing online, faithful of the Diocese have the opportunity to witness one of the most solemn and sacred liturgies in the Church year – the annual Chrism Mass.

This year, priests, deacons, religious and lay women and men from Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties are invited to join Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who will celebrate the Mass on the Monday of Holy Week, March 25, at 7:30 p.m., in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, 61 Georgia Road, Freehold. The Chrism Mass will also be livestreamed on diocesan social media platforms and on YouTube in English and Spanish.

The Chrism Mass, traditionally celebrated around the world during Holy Week, provides a demonstration of the unity of the Catholic community around the Bishop. The pews in the Co-Cathedral are filled to its 1,100-seating capacity. There well over 100 priests in the front pews, all of whom concelebrate the Mass with the Bishop. Deacons from the Diocese are also in attendance as are religious and lay faithful from the four counties of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean. During the Mass, all witness the dramatic unfolding of ancient rituals, such as the consecration and blessing of the Holy Oils by the Bishop. 

Also, a most poignant moment during the Mass is when all of the priests stand before the Bishop and renew their commitment to priestly ministry.

During the Mass, Bishop O’Connell will bless the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens and he will consecrate the Sacred Chrism to be used in parishes throughout the coming year. 

As described in the Roman Missal, the Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the sick, bringing strength, comfort and forgiveness to those in need. The Oil of the Catechumens is blessed to strengthen those preparing for Baptism to avoid sin and grow in their faith. A catechumen is one who is preparing for Baptism in the Catholic Church. The Sacred Chrism is used for Baptism, Confirmation, ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of altars and churches.

When Bishop O’Connell consecrates the Sacred Chrism, he will add a fragrant balsam to the oil and then breathe over the vessel, signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit. The oils and Sacred Chrism will be distributed to parish representatives who will carry them back to their faith communities to be used in sacramental rites throughout the year.

The Mass of Chrism is also when all priests of the Diocese stand before the Bishop and renew their vows, recommitting themselves to their priestly service and vocation.

The tradition of the Mass of Chrism dates back centuries to the early Church and used to be part of the evening Mass celebrated on Holy Thursday. As part of his 1955 liturgical reforms, Pope Pius XII called for a separate Chrism Mass, apart from the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Now the Chrism Mass continues to be celebrated by bishops in cathedrals throughout the world during Holy Week. In the Trenton Diocese, the Chrism Mass is customarily celebrated on the Monday of Holy Week.

The Chrism Mass livestream may be viewed at youtube.com/trentondiocese and across the Diocese’s digital platforms.


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Whether it’s attending in-person or viewing online, faithful of the Diocese have the opportunity to witness one of the most solemn and sacred liturgies in the Church year – the annual Chrism Mass.

This year, priests, deacons, religious and lay women and men from Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties are invited to join Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who will celebrate the Mass on the Monday of Holy Week, March 25, at 7:30 p.m., in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, 61 Georgia Road, Freehold. The Chrism Mass will also be livestreamed on diocesan social media platforms and on YouTube in English and Spanish.

The Chrism Mass, traditionally celebrated around the world during Holy Week, provides a demonstration of the unity of the Catholic community around the Bishop. The pews in the Co-Cathedral are filled to its 1,100-seating capacity. There well over 100 priests in the front pews, all of whom concelebrate the Mass with the Bishop. Deacons from the Diocese are also in attendance as are religious and lay faithful from the four counties of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean. During the Mass, all witness the dramatic unfolding of ancient rituals, such as the consecration and blessing of the Holy Oils by the Bishop. 

Also, a most poignant moment during the Mass is when all of the priests stand before the Bishop and renew their commitment to priestly ministry.

During the Mass, Bishop O’Connell will bless the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens and he will consecrate the Sacred Chrism to be used in parishes throughout the coming year. 

As described in the Roman Missal, the Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the sick, bringing strength, comfort and forgiveness to those in need. The Oil of the Catechumens is blessed to strengthen those preparing for Baptism to avoid sin and grow in their faith. A catechumen is one who is preparing for Baptism in the Catholic Church. The Sacred Chrism is used for Baptism, Confirmation, ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of altars and churches.

When Bishop O’Connell consecrates the Sacred Chrism, he will add a fragrant balsam to the oil and then breathe over the vessel, signifying the presence of the Holy Spirit. The oils and Sacred Chrism will be distributed to parish representatives who will carry them back to their faith communities to be used in sacramental rites throughout the year.

The Mass of Chrism is also when all priests of the Diocese stand before the Bishop and renew their vows, recommitting themselves to their priestly service and vocation.

The tradition of the Mass of Chrism dates back centuries to the early Church and used to be part of the evening Mass celebrated on Holy Thursday. As part of his 1955 liturgical reforms, Pope Pius XII called for a separate Chrism Mass, apart from the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Now the Chrism Mass continues to be celebrated by bishops in cathedrals throughout the world during Holy Week. In the Trenton Diocese, the Chrism Mass is customarily celebrated on the Monday of Holy Week.

The Chrism Mass livestream may be viewed at youtube.com/trentondiocese and across the Diocese’s digital platforms.

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