Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates the Founding of the Priesthood and Blesses the Oils to be used in the Sacraments

“The Eucharist is what we do in memory of Jesus. The priesthood is how we do it in his memory.”

April 02, 2012

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, together with hundreds of priests from throughout the archdiocese celebrated a special Mass to commemorate the founding of the priesthood by Christ. During the Mass, held annually at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection), the special oils used by all parishes in the archdiocese to administer the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick during the upcoming year were blessed and consecrated. During the Mass, the priests also renewed the promises made at their ordination of their commitment to Christ, to his Church and to priestly ministry.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged the hundreds of priests, religious, and seminarians packed into the cathedral and said all present were part of the great mystery of Christ at work in the world, but in a particular way, the Church lifts up the priesthood at this special Mass. Cardinal Wuerl addressed the challenges facing priests today and their vital role in carrying out the New Evangelization, the core theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. “Our culture so easily dismisses the spiritual, the transcendent, the eternal for what our Holy Father described when he was with us as “the secular, the material and the individualistic,” he said. “What we recommit our priestly ministry to tonight includes the recognition that this is a new moment in the life of the Church and that this is a time to re-propose all over again the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who think they may have heard it and have drifted away or to those for whom it has no particular attraction.”

Cardinal Wuerl also alluded to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, telling priests “…you and I lead a Church that is facing the single most serious challenge to its freedom in recent memory.” The Obama Administration’s HHS mandate’s narrow definition of which organizations are “religious enough” directly challenges the Church’s religious freedom. The mandate also forces religious institutions, in violation of their religious beliefs, to provide and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization.

Cardinal Wuerl has continually voiced his grave concerns that the mandate violates constitutionally protected religious liberty. He offered words of encouragement, reminding the priests that, “in spite of the challenges of our day, we find joy and reason to rejoice as we take on each day our ministry. We recognize what a great privilege it is to be called today in our moment to do our part just as giants in the faith did their part in earlier times.”

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics, 140 parishes and 98 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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