Brother Priests, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Earlier this week, I got a text message from a friend:

“Good Morning Bishop Duffy. Just said a prayer for U and for all priests. Hope you are well and not overworking yourself.”

What a lovely message – “just said a prayer for you” – what a beautiful gift, my welfare being brought into the presence of the God of love.

I have greatly fortified and strengthened in recent months by the prayers of people. When I was first ordained a priest and invited people to pray for me, their reply, in general, was “priests don’t need prayers”. That isn’t a reply one is likely to get today.

At this Chrism Mass, I thank all who pray for priests, and all who help and support us in any way.

Brother Priests, you have dedicated your lives to God in the service of the Church. Your “Yes” at ordination was the giving of your life for the good and growth of the Kingdom of God. Today’s world puts increasing demands and expectations on you. I thank you most sincerely for your faithful and generous service, a service that has enriched the lives of many.

In a few moments, I will invite you to renew your “yes” to God, and I pray that it will fan into a flame again the gift that God gave you at ordination. Then I will invite the congregation present here and all of the church to remember you in prayer.

This morning we bless and consecrate the the oils for the sacramental life of the Church in the Diocese of Clogher.

In blessing the Oil of the Sick we are mindful of the ill and the aged. With gratitude we pray for medical and nursing personnel who care for the ill in hospital. Those who care for the aged at home deserve special mention before God.

In blessing the Oil of Catechumans we pray for all to be baptised this Easter and beyond. We thank baptismal teams and all who help to hand on the faith in our parishes and communities today.

The Oil of Chrism is used for three of the sacraments, Baptism, Ordination and Confirmation and for anointing altars. Today we pray for Deacon Kevin Connolly, that as he prepares for ordination to priesthood, the riches of God’s grace may be showered on him by the Holy Spirit. We pray for increased vocations and we thank God for the work and accompaniment of the St Joseph’s Young Priests’ Society.

In a few weeks time we will begin the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation across the diocese. Some time ago, a bishop asked students in 6th class to write about what Confirmation meant to them. A 12-year-old wrote this:

“I have two brothers aged 18 and 14; and two sisters 19 and 16. They are all teenagers. They all changed when they started secondary school. They spend a lot of time on their phones and tend to stay in their rooms. They are more grumpy and cross, and I can’t remember the last time they played catch or tip the can. I know they have exams, and the Leaving Cert is important, but the fun seems to be sucked out of them. They also argue with mum and dad about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. It’s not all bad – they are not mean or anything like that – they are just suffering from teenagism. That is why I need the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide me through school and prepare me for the teenage years.”

What a wise answer!

God’s greatest gift to us today is the Holy Spirit. It is available to all –

  • To bring good news to the poor
  • To bring liberty to captives
  • To set the downtrodden free
  • To be Christ’s presence in the world.

Today, let us make this great gift known.

As we bring these Holy Oils back home to our parishes, let us also carry our faith in our hearts and bless all those whom we encounter.