Archbishop Joins His Priests and People for Holy Thursday Chrism Mass

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
24 Mar 2016

After a long period of recovery, Archbishop Fisher was present on Holy Thursday at the Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral

In his first public celebration of Mass since he became ill with Guillain-Barré Syndrome at Christmas, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP celebrated the Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral this morning. 

This morning's Mass was concelebrated by more than 100 priests of the Archdiocese of Sydney, as well as others from religious orders who serve within the Archdiocese.  Also present were deacons, religious brothers and sisters, seminarians and lay faithful from Sydney and beyond.

In his opening remarks, Archbishop Fisher told those gathered that he had longed to celebrate Mass with the priests and faithful of Sydney while he had been suffering, expressing his joy at being back in the Cathedral today.  He invited those gathered to pray in thanksgiving for acknowledged Fathers Thomas Stevens, Lewi Barakat, Joshua Miechels, Mate Litric, Gustavo Criollo amd Daney Irudaya Doss, each of whom had been ordained in the past year.

He also spoke of Father Frank Martin, Sydney's longest-serving priest who, at the age of 99 and after 75 years of priesthood, passed away this month and asked for prayers for him and Father Peter Quilty, who also died this year.

He honoured those who had passed milestone anniversaries since their priestly Ordination, including those celebrating their Diamond Jubilee (Fathers John Lyne, Peter Morrissey and Mark Spora), Golden Jubilee (Fathers Francis Coorey, James Boland and Robert Stevens).

Archbishop Fisher was visibly joyful to be present with his priests and people this Easter

The readings from the Prophet Isaiah and the Book of Revelation each spoke of the ministry of the priesthood, and the Gospel told the story of Jesus' reading from the same words of the Prophet Isaiah in the Synagogue.

In his homily, Archbishop Fisher focussed on the symbolism of hands.  He told those gathered that Catholic hands are for directing all creation to God, and that priestly hands are anointed to bless and sacramentalise creation.

Speaking then of his illness, Archbishop Fisher said that his sickness has led him to much more appreciate the importance of hands, with his right hand and arm being the first indicator of muscle weakness before complete paralysis from the neck-down struck within 24 hours.  He has been told that his hands will be the last thing to recover, reflecting that they are not only important for simple daily tasks, but for his ministry as a priest and bishop.

Over 100 priests from the Archdiocese joined the Archbishop at the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass

"I miss the use of my hands even more because they are so important to our ministry as priests," he said.  "At times I wished I had lost the function of my legs for much longer and had my hands back sooner."

He went on to speak about weakness more generally, and prayed that all present would their own powerlessness, weakness and vulnerability in order to rely ever more upon the hands of God.

On Holy Thursday, the Church celebrates the institution of the priesthood by Christ at the Last Supper.  Because this day is the "anniversary of the priesthood", priests at the Chrism Mass renew the promises made on the day of their Ordination.

Because Holy Thursday is the day on which Jesus instituted the priesthood, priests are invited to renew the promises made at their Ordination at the Mass.  Following the homily, the priests stood and affirmed their resolve to renew these promises, to be united with the Lord Jesus and more closely confirmed to Him, to be faithful stewards of the Mysteries of God and to discharge the Sacred Office of teaching.  The congregation was then invited to offer their prayers for their priests and finally for Archbishop Fisher.

The Cathedral was full for Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday at which Archbishop Fisher was present for his first public celebration since falling
ill last Christmas

Archbishop Fisher then blessed the oils of Chrism, Catechumens and the sick which will be used for baptisms, confirmations, anointing of the sick and ordinations throughout the year.  Following the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Archbishop Fisher expressed his gratitude to the priests of Sydney for their service, and asked those present to continue to pray for him as he continued his recovery.

Following the Mass, the Archbishop hosted the priests and deacons at Cathedral House for a meal.

See the Archbishop's full homily here