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Holy Week: Bishop Deeley Celebrates Mass of the Holy Oils in Madawaska on Wednesday Night

MADAWASKA---Just over 24 hours after the Chrism Mass and 330 miles away, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated the Mass of the Holy Oils at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Madawaska with priests, deacons, and parishioners from northern and eastern Maine parishes.

During the Mass, held traditionally on the Wednesday of Holy Week, oils that will be used in the sacraments during the upcoming year were distributed to priests to take back to their communities. The oil of the sick is used to anoint the sick, the oil of the catechumens is used for baptism, and the sacred chrism is used for baptism, confirmation, ordinations, as well as the consecration of altars and churches. The oils were blessed and the chrism consecrated by Bishop Deeley during the Chrism Mass held on Tuesday in Portland.

Bishop Deeley was happy to be with the clergy and faithful of the north in the continuation of a long custom in the Diocese of Portland for the bishop to carry the oils north the day after the Chrism Mass.

“How happy I am to be in the County and the St. John Valley once again!” the bishop said to the assembly gathered at St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday night. “My visit here in Holy Week is, for me, a sure sign that spring is coming. Coming together again is a reminder for us that this Mass is a celebration of the church, and a celebration of our own identity in the Diocese of Portland as Church.”

During his homily, the bishop said that while Holy Week in Maine has dominated the attention of the local faithful, an encounter at the Chrism Mass served as a reminder of the true importance of the universal Church and keeping those in need around the world in our prayers.

“Last night, when we gathered for the Chrism Mass, I was able to introduce a guest. Fr. Evaldas Darulis, the newly elected Franciscan Minister Provincial for the Province of St. Casimir in Lithuania, is visiting from Lithuania. He was elected provincial at the beginning of this year. Fr. Evaldas’ presence with us brought us closer to the suffering of the people of Ukraine. We spoke of the sad and difficult situation of the war in Ukraine, a close neighbor of Lithuania. Fr. Evaldas shared with me some stories of the generous hospitality given by the people of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, to the refugees coming from Ukraine. It reminds us of the need we have to keep those suffering people, our Christian brothers and sisters, in our prayers. The outpouring of support for the people of Ukraine is heartening. We need to continue to pray, however, that those who are sponsoring this cruel and unlawful takeover of a sovereign nation will be influenced to cease this lawlessness.”

As part of the Mass of the Holy Oils, the priests renewed their priestly promises made at their ordinations as did the priests participating in Tuesday’s Chrism Mass. The priests resolved to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepherd.”

“It is our priests who make it possible for us to be able to gather for the Eucharist,” said the bishop. “This evening, then, I want to acknowledge their good work.”

Work and service that grew in difficulty and demanded creativity during the pandemic.

“You were eager to find new ways to serve your people, new ways to bring the hope of Jesus Christ into the homes and hearts of your people,” the bishop said to the priests. “With the Church here in the County gathered this evening for this Mass, I thank you all for your commitment and your generous ministry to our people, and I ask all the Church to pray for you and your ministry. May the Lord strengthen you in grace as he guides you in ministering to those you serve.”

Bishop Deeley also reminded the faithful of the need for more priestly vocations as the important work of current priests continues.

“We need now to rebuild our Church. As we renew our priestly commitments today, we need to find new enthusiasm and new courage to serve God. Every priest serves in his own time, and every time presents its own challenges. The pandemic is ours. It has caused grave problems in our society in relationships and in our people’s dealings with each other. Our society was already divided but it seems that it has become more isolated, angrier, and more deeply divided. We certainly do not have solutions to all society’s problems, but we know that we are priests of God,” the bishop told the priests. “Our efforts to help our people to restore within themselves an appreciation for the meaning that the Eucharist brings to life will begin with our own renewal.”

During the Mass, the congregation joined in praying for the priests, as well as for Bishop Deeley and all the bishops of the world, all the baptized, and all who have died. 

Bishop Deeley will return to the Cathedral for the Holy Thursday Celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (7 p.m.), the Celebration of Our Lord’s Passion on Good Friday (7 p.m.), the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday (8 p.m.), and the celebration of the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday (10 a.m.). All of the Masses and services at the Cathedral will also be livestreamed at www.portlandcatholic.org/livestreamed-liturgies.

A special Holy Week section is available on the Diocese of Portland website that includes Mass and service times at all Maine parishes, listings of special parish events, daily prayers and reflections, and many other resources.

In addition, stories from many Masses and services, messages, and other resources throughout Holy Week will be posted on the diocesan website, the diocesan Facebook page, the diocesan Twitter page, the diocesan Instagram page, myParish App, and on Bishop Deeley’s personal social media pages on Twitter and Instagram.