Besides serving as the vehicle for the blessing of sacramental oils used by parishes throughout the coming year, the Chrism Mass is also the occasion at which priests renew their sacred vows and recommit themselves to service.

“Each of us who has been baptized has a priestly soul,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We are called to be holy people. We are called to make our lives something beautiful that we offer in sacrifice to God. We are called to strive for holiness, to self-denial, and to acts of love and mercy. In this sense we all share in the common priesthood of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“But the ordained priest is someone altogether different — in the Church and in God’s plan for salvation. By your ordination, you offered your humanity to Christ so that Christ might use you as an instrument of salvation for others.”

On this note, the archbishop spoke of Venerable Nelson Baker, a man who served in the militia from New York during the Civil War. After the war he was restless, though he had been successful in business. He felt a calling from God to join the priesthood.

“It was not a career move,” said the archbishop, “but rather a response to a personal call to do more.” Father Baker started several ministries — a hospital, orphanage, vocational training school for boys, a home for unwed mothers with prenatal care and an adoption service.

“Father Baker always sought to do more in response to his call from God and for those around him,” said Archbishop Gomez, pointing out that Father Baker was known to have served more than a million meals a year during the Great Depression.

“Father Baker was trying to build what he called a ‘City of Charity,’”  said Archbishop Gomez, who then asked his brother priests to join him in building “a City of Charity here in Los Angeles — a city where the love of God is made real in our neighborhoods and homes, in our hearts, and at our altars.”

As is customary, the Chrism Mass served as an opportunity to honor the archdiocesan and religious order priests who will celebrate their 50-year jubilees in 2011. Of the 10 golden jubilarian priests who attended the Chrism Mass, two continue to serve as pastors: Msgr. John Barry, of American Martyrs, Manhattan Beach, and Msgr. James Loughnane, of St. Denis, Diamond Bar. 

Others attending were: Father James Bradley, SDS, Passionist Father Michael Hoolahan, Father Joseph Duc Minh, Msgr. John O’Byrne, Msgr. Peter O’Reilly, Columban Father Thomas Reynolds, Father Gilbert Romero and Father Thomas Stehly. (A future article in The Tidings will detail the contributions of these golden jubilarian priests.)

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