Today, Holy Thursday 18 April, the Chrism Mass was celebrated in Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Archdiocese of Dublin. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. The Chrism Mass focuses on the ministry of priests and on the renewal of priestly commitment. The oils that are blessed or consecrated are symbols of the sacramental ministry of the Church.

At the outset of his homily, Archbishop Martin said: “Today I celebrate this Chrism Mass for the fifteenth time. It is one of the great occasions in the life of the diocese.”

The Archbishop said that much has changed in the diocese over the past fifteen years – he believes, for the better. He said: “Over these fifteen years, we have experienced the dramatic effects of the crisis of sexual abuse. We move forward, not whitewashing the past, but recognising how our parish communities have responded with great dedication putting into place and supporting child protection structures of which we can be rightly proud.”

Archbishop Martin stated that he expects a new period of renewal and sense of mission coming in the future. He continued: “All of this renewal must take place within the changing religious culture of Ireland and this diocese. We have challenges. The overall population of the Archdiocese is growing. In some areas the growth is spectacular. There are five parishes in this diocese with over fifteen thousand Catholics. Patterns of ministry have to adapt to changing situations. Things are happening. Parishes are working together. In the Ballymun area, we have united three parishes to respond better to the changing needs.”

One positive development noted by the Archbishop is how effectively the archdiocese reaches out to young people. He said: “We have two churches in Dublin specifically dedicated to ministry with young adults, something quite unique in Ireland.” The Archbishop referenced Saint Paul’s in Arran Quay and University Church in Saint Stephen’s Green as two churches that are leading the way of youth ministry in Dublin. He continued: “We have two remarkable young women working full time out of Saint Paul’s animating youth leaders in parishes and supporting programmes of youth activity.”

Archbishop Martin emphasised that in the face of a pluralised culture, young people have to be supported and accompanied in finding a strong personalised faith. He continued: “I have been reading over the past weeks a book entitled Haunted by Christ. The title fascinates me. Faith in Jesus Christ is never a point of arrival. Every day we must allow Jesus to haunt us, to challenge us, to make us ask deeper and deeper questions, even when we cannot seem to find definitive answers.”

The Archbishop went to say that change is needed in the Church. He said: “The Church has to change. I have to say that the Interim Report published yesterday by the Commission of Investigation on Mother and Baby Homes leaves me with profound distress, even indignation. We are the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus considered children as a sign of his Kingdom. What went wrong to give rise to a situation in which children within the Church of Jesus Christ were not cared for with scrupulous dignity, whether in life or in death? I find it hard to believe that evidence has simply vanished and that no one can remember.”

Archbishop Martin said that the Catholic Church in Ireland must constantly examine the negative effects of how it exercised a dominant role in Irish society in the past, without renouncing its prophetic role in contemporary Irish society.

Preaching on the Gospel of the Chrism Mass, Archbishop Martin said: “The Gospel reading of our Mass is one where Jesus speaks about his own identity. He is the one who makes definitively present in the world what God’s people had sought and hoped for along the path of history. Jesus is the one who brings freedom, who lifts burdens, who is attentive to the marginalised, who brings good news to the downhearted.”

Concluding his homily Archbishop said: “Let us commit ourselves this morning to being a Church that radically opens itself to the power of freedom that springs from faith in Jesus Christ and brings freedom and good news into hearts that are troubled. That is our challenge, but it is truly the beautiful challenge of being a faithful believer in the God who is love, revealed to us in Jesus Christ.”

ENDS