View of St Patrick's at 2024 Chrism Mass

“Find God in all things” challenges Bishop at 2024 Chrism Mass

Wednesday 27th March 2024

Today, the eyes of the diocese were on St Patrick’s in Collyhurst as priests, parishioners, and charity representatives gathered for this year’s Mass of Sacred Chrism.

Usually taking place at Salford Cathedral, the Chrism Mass moved this year to the Livesey Street church as work continues to restore the mother church of our diocese to its former glory.

The Chrism Mass is one of the most solemn and beautiful Masses of the liturgical year, in which priests renew their vows of ordination, and the bishop blesses holy oils used in the anointing of the sick, the anointing of those about to be or newly baptised, and the anointing of priests.

Collage of photos showing urns, priests processing, and celebration of Chrism Mass

This occasion is also traditionally known as a celebration of the priesthood, and so Bishop John turned his focus to his brother priests during his homily.

Continuing on the theme of change, Bishop John began: “I’d like to take a minute to think about how our ministry is changing and how we need to be aware of those changes taking place.”

Thinking back to the days of the pandemic, Bishop John reflected on the adaptability of our priests and parishes to find new ways and initiatives to engage parishioners when the doors of our churches remained closed.

Back then, the digital world presented priests with a golden opportunity to maintain connection with their parishes within the restrictions of the lockdown, but Bishop John considered the legacy of that freedom; a change of culture that has left many people engaging in their faith solely through a phone or computer screen.

Other challenges highlighted in the homily included a sense that the Church had become somewhat of a “service provider” for key life events but not the lifeblood of our day-to-day lives; in addition to a desire to young people’s energy and enthusiasm for their faith alive in the pews – not just in school.

Turning his attention to some wonderful changes and opportunities in our diocese, Bishop John said: “There is a steady flow of migrant families – young families – who are very enthusiastic about their faith and feel very welcomed in our parishes and that’s something we must foster to embrace that sense of enthusiasm among us.”

Bishop John took a moment to thank the priests and religious who have moved to our diocese from overseas to help carry out our mission of faith, before reminding his brother priests of the need to be adaptable in this time of change.

He said: “So all that seems, to me, to suggest that we need to be rather different in the way we live out our ministry. We need to be adapting according to the needs of the people. It’s so important that we understand that each individual is on a different stage of their faith journey.

“Parishes are different too and we, as priests, need to be accompanying people as best we can on their journey. Rather than be restrictive – yes we have to lead our congregations – but rather than being restrictive, we are accompanying people in their lives of faith.”

Reflecting on his time as Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne, Bishop John shared a short phrase that particularly stood out to him during his office: “Finding God in all things.”

He said: “It’s very easy to see God in the celebration of our sacraments, in our successes, in good things that happen, but I’d like to suggest to you that God is present in all things – whether in our mistakes, when things have gone wrong, possibilities to learn and to change and adapt our ministry accordingly.”

Ending his homily, Bishop John left his brother priests with one key message: “In the openness of our ministry – please – never, ever feel you are isolated. We are in this together; we are the Church in the Diocese of Salford and we need each other’s skills and talents working together and supporting one another.”

Following his homily, Bishop John took a moment before the blessing of the oils to invite his brother priests to renew their vows of priestly service and asked the congregation to pray for him and all our priests.

Collage of photos showing urns, priests processing, and celebration of Chrism Mass

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