Chrism Mass draws Catholics to cathedral for oils and promises

GARY – The Cathedral of the Holy Angels was packed with faithful from all four corners of the Diocese of Gary on the morning of March 28 for the celebration for one of the most significant liturgies of the year, the Chrism Mass.
Bishop Robert J. McClory focused on healing as the theme of the Holy Week liturgy that includes both the annual blessing and consecration of the three Holy Oils used throughout the next year and the Renewal of Priestly Promises by the clergy who serve under the apostolic leadership of Bishop McClory.
Healing was the theme centered on by the bishop, who captured the congregation’s attention at the beginning of his homily by holding up what he called “A small black satchel that had been entrusted to a member of the faithful upon the passing (in 2023) of Father Myron (Lowicz),” a Franciscan priest who had served a hospital chaplaincy for almost 40 years at St. Anthony, now Franciscan Health Crown Point.
The kit contains the items a priest needs when he performs the Anointing of the Sick, said Bishop McClory, including a small prayer book well-known to all priests. The well-worn page with the words for that sacrament, explained the bishop, “is saturated with the oil used in the Anointing of the Sick,” so much so that it barely holds together.
“May the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit, may the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up,” read the bishop, adding, “And our response is – Amen.
“What beautiful words! They also encapsulate so much of the healing mission Jesus was sent on and entrusts to us,” added the bishop, who continued with words similar to Isaiah’s in the day’s Gospel: “He comes to bring sight to the blind and to heal the brokenhearted. Jesus came to bring healing, of our bodies and our souls.”
A three-point description of Jesus’ redemption, added the bishop, “is that he brings the Good News, freedom and healing, nothing less than the redemption of the human race in all space and time.”
“The Good News is that there is a God who loves us and Jesus is the manifestation of that – he declares it and he does it … Freedom, who doesn’t want to be free and that is fulfilled in Christ Jesus,” said the bishop. “Isaiah tells us that (Jesus) came to heal the brokenhearted. We live in a world that needs to know that their hearts can be healed.”
Bishop McClory said he has been “privileged to make parish visits this year” and found it inspiring to see so many healing works being accomplished, “yet the Lord has more planned for us as we find how we can support one another, as many parishes have already done. We have (also) seen the Good News of the Church permeating our Catholic schools.
On this day that the Holy Eucharist appeared, he added, “We need to believe in our hearts that He came … and that we can be saturated in his love.”
In addition to Bishop McClory blessing multiple tall glass urns containing the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens and consecrating the Oil of the Sacred Chrism, all carried forward by parishioners, the Chrism Mass featured more than 60 priests renewing their priestly promises to obey their prelate and serve the Catholic Church faithfully.
“Seeing the priests renew their vows is one of my favorite parts of the Chrism Mass,” said Glenda Faitak, of Lowell, a parishioner at St. Edward who frequently attends the Holy Thursday liturgy.
“Receiving the Eucharist” is another highlight of every Mass, she added. “I’m a convert, so I’m drawn to everything that is a reminder of me coming into the Catholic Church, and the goodness of the Church, and what’s good in the world. I know we don’t always see that good in the world, but I believe it is there.”
Anthony Holt, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, usually participates in the Chrism Mass from the choir loft, where he sings with the Diocesan Choir, but this year he took on a new role, as a bearer of the Oil of Catechumens. “It was special, humbling, and I felt like a servant of Christ,” he said of being an oil bearer.
“As I carried the urn, I was really nervous seeing all the priests in front of me, but I also felt like I was a real part of the celebration of the liturgy. It is really special to see all the priests together renewing their vows,” Holt added.
Aron Aramburo, only 21, is the youth minister and an usher at St. Mary in East Chicago, but had a special reason to attend his first Chrism Mass this year – serving as a bearer of the Oil of the Holy Chrism.  
“I felt like it was a sign from God when I was asked to participate,” he said, “and I can’t say no to God. I was joyful and thankful.”
Aramburo described his first Chrism Mass as “Beautiful. It reminded me that the Catholic Church is the universal Church and that we are all one, one family. I was very, very grateful and honored to be a part of this liturgy, and I hope to inspire many young adults.
“The distribution of the Holy Eucharist really impressed me,” Aramburo added. “There was so much reverence and the joy it brings to people’s lives is very special.”


Caption: Bishop Robert J. McClory infuses the Holy Spirit, blowing into a vessel containing chrism oil held by Aron Aramburo during the Chrism Mass where the diocesan leader also blessed holy oils, joined by priests serving in the diocese, who renewed their vows, at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary on March 28. Bishop McClory spoke of the healing power of the sacraments and the responsibilities of believers. "We live in a world that needs to know that hearts can be healed. And that the love of God is there for them ... that mission is for all of us to be able to fulfill and participate," the bishop said. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)