By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Officiating at his first Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Jason Gordon asked priests to work with him to build a bond of unity in the Church.
“Let us build a bond of service that together we will serve the people of God and guard them into the way of God and guard them all the way to Christ,” he said to priests seated in the sanctuary during his homily. There was a large congregation for the solemn liturgy at which the archbishop blesses the oil to be used for sacraments during the year and priests renew their vows made at ordination.
He called priesthood “a most precious gift” but commented being a priest in today’s world is not easy. The challenges faced are very different from 50 years ago when priests were held in high esteem.
Archbishop Gordon said people look down on the priesthood and question if the man choosing this vocation could not find better things to do with his life. He advised that a simple response is: “This is the best I can do with my life because in this vocation I give my whole life to God.”
In the face of challenges including not living up to the task of their vocation, he reminded of God’s grace. “It is this grace that we have received in this age in which we live that we have been called to be witnesses to the love, the grace and the truth of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Gordon said. The “call of the sacred priesthood” was also to make a difference to people, especially those on the fringes of society and to speak out for them.
He said priests have said ‘yes’ to a call bigger than they could hope or live for, but through surrendering to God’s grace God will do infinitely more than they could imagine.
Archbishop Gordon called on priests to reflect on the call to the priesthood they received and why they answered the call. “Because you are a priest you have been shaped in a different way than any other life you would have chosen, that this shaping and this grace by God has also invited you to another place,” he added.
He alluded to the treatment of the environment, and “ravages” caused because of the inability of humans to understand “creation is where God dwells so we must also serve creation and ensure we do not destroy it”.
At the Mass, Archbishop Gordon blessed the Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens and consecrated the Chrism. He told the congregation, “Without these oils the Church cannot do what she is called to do, and that is to bring broken humanity to be reconciled with God…each of these oils to be blessed today have a fruitful service to give to us over the next year.”
The Gospel was proclaimed by Deacon Gabriel Nyamah CSSp and the first and second readings done by a representative of Laventille/Morvant and Sangre Grande respectively.
Delegates from parishes as well as representatives of ecclesial communities and organisations, collected oils during the Rite of Reception of the Oils and greeted the archbishop.