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Blessing of holy oils worth the wait

Local

Delayed by four months and held under very different conditions, the Chrism Mass on August 18 was nonetheless cause for great celebration as representatives from parishes around the Archdiocese gathered to receive their holy oils.

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Originally scheduled to be held on April 6 during Holy Week, the Mass had to be postponed when churches were closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

In what was one of the first major celebrations at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in recent months, Catholics from throughout the Archdiocese stepped forward to collect the oils that will be used in the celebration of sacraments in their parishes and communities.

Unlike in previous years, the Cathedral was not full for this Mass as only 240 people were permitted to attend, and demand to secure a seat was high.

“Due to coronavirus restrictions we implemented a system where people were asked to book via TryBooking and the available seats were filled within two weeks,” said Events manager, Belinda Fusco.

“We also had a waitlist of names so there were some people who were disappointed they missed out.

“Fortunately, we were able to live stream the Mass and that was watched by hundreds of people.”

Besides the attendance restrictions, another stark difference was lack of congregational singing, with just the voices of the choir filling the Cathedral.

This followed updated coronavirus advice from SA Health that ‘singing increases the distance that droplets from the mouth can travel and spread, so spacing of 1.5 metres apart is advised when singing’.

In a memo to parishes, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan said SA Health had advised that congregational singing should be avoided and only small choirs permitted, ‘provided singers were able to be social distanced from each other and the rest of the congregation’.

A tradition that continued at this year’s Chrism Mass was inviting a multicultural group to participate in the service. Children from the Korean Catholic Community at Norwood looked resplendent in their national dress as they accompanied the oils and offerings to the altar.

In ‘normal’ times, the Chrism Mass is the final and most dramatic Lenten gathering of the faithful. Priests, deacons and parishioners gather with the Archbishop for the blessing of the holy oils that are to be used in the coming year for baptisms, confirmations, the Anointing of the Sick, ordinations to priesthood, any consecration of altars or churches, and during the rites of the adult catechumenate. It is also at this Mass that the priests of the Archdiocese renew their commitment to priestly ministry.

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