Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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chrism mass 2018 080 900x600Archbishop Leonard P. Blair prepares the oils for blessing as Father Ryan Lerner, chancellor, assists, at the Chrism Mass on March 27 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. See gallery of photos by Aaron Joseph at —During a solemn yet joyful gathering that marks Holy Week, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair led more than 200 bishops, priests, deacons and religious, as well as the lay faihful, in the celebration of the annual Chrism Mass on March 27 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

The Chrism Mass is the occasion for priests to renew their commitment to priestly service and unity with the archbishop and for three oils to be blessed for the administration of the sacraments throughout the archdiocese for the year. The oil of the sick, oil of  catechumens and holy chrism are distributed to all 127 parishes and Catholic hospitals.

Archbishop Blair blessed the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick, which are pure olive oil; he consecrated the sacred chrism, a mixture of olive oil and balsam.

chrism mass 2018 043 900x600In his homily, Archbishop Blair talked about the sacramental life of the Church and the occasion of the Chrism Mass for priests to recommit to their priestly heritage. 

He noted that one of the most vivid images on Good Friday occurs when the soldier pierces the side of Jesus, from which poured out blood and water. 

“According to ancient tradition, our Savior’s wound in his side is the source of all sacramental life in the Church,” said Archbishop Blair.

“All salvation passes through the body of the crucified and risen Jesus by the power of the Holy Sprint,” he noted. “His very flesh has become the means to eternal life.”

Think of the waters of baptism, he urged; or the of Eucharist, as “the source and summit of all the sacraments,” which was implemented when Christ changed bread and wine into his body and blood on Holy Thursday. 

“These are not mere symbols. These are the very reality, the very substance of the flesh and blood of the risen Lord,” he said.

Emphasizing this “sacramental realism” of Christ’s work in the Church, he turned to the Chrism Mass and the sacred oils that are used for “healing us, strengthening us, even transforming us through the power of the Holy Sprit.”

The Chrism Mass also reveals the “priestly heritage” of priests who exemplify Christ, Archbishop Blair said. “What is decisive for a priest is the extent to which he lays down his life in priestly sacrifice of all that he is and all that he has in union with Christ,” he said.
As for the lay faithful, he urged those gathered to love and pray for priests that they may be faithful instruments in the Lord’s service.

Principal concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza..

The blessing of oils is an ancient tradition that dates back to the early Church. Over the centuries, the oils were blessed at the Easter Vigil or Holy Thursday. But in 1955, Pope Pius XII created a separate Mass of Chrism to be held close to Easter. After the Mass, the holy oils are distributed to the parishes of the diocese for use in the coming year.

The name “chrism” is taken from “Christ,” which means the anointed one.

The oil of the sick is used to strengthen the sick. Oil of catechumens is imposed on a person just before baptism. And the sacred chrism is used at confirmation and after baptism, as well as for the ordination of a priest, consecration of a bishop and consecration of the altar and walls in the dedication of a church.

For the blessing of the holy Chrism, the bishop breathes over the vessel of chrism, which symbolizes both the Holy Spirit coming down to consecrate this oil, and the life-giving, sanctifying nature of the character of the sacraments for which it is used.

Before the final blessing, Archbishop Blair acknowledged jubilarian priests who are marking 25, 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 years of their priestly ordination this year. Noting that the archdiocese will celebrate its 175th anniversary next November, he singled out Father A. Leo Spodnik, who is marking the 70th years of his priesthood this year.

Archbishop Blair also thanked the cathedral's Schola Cantorum and instrumentalists who performed under the direction of the cathedral’s music director, Ezequiel Menéndez. Joining them was a visiting choir from Argentina, Vocal Cámara Platense, a 30-member group conducted by Fernando Tomé that is comprised of singers, conductors and music teachers from renowned musical groups and schools in La Plata and Buenos Aires.

Also attending were students from Catholic high schools in the archdiocese and middle school students from St. Paul School in Kensington.

“It helps the students understand their Catholic faith more fully by participating in the fulfillment of the paschal mystery,” said St. Paul eighth-grade teacher John Grant about students’ attendance at the Mass. “It brings them closer to Jesus who is the purpose of everything.”

His students agreed. “It’s good to be here,” said eighth grader William Kurnik. “It’s a beautiful church and a beautiful Mass.”

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.