Chrism Mass set the stage for synod opening
There was a lot of excitement inside the cathedral at the Chrism Mass when you explained what a synod is and then opened the synod process. Did you get a lot of comments?
Yes, I did. There was a great deal of excitement and comments, first of all, about the large number of priests who were there. We estimate more than 130 priests gathered for the Chrism Mass to renew their commitment to priestly ministry and to serving God’s people in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. For me, that’s always a very impressive part of the Chrism Mass because we can look back to our own ordination when we were anointed as priests. On ordination day, we made promises that we would be men of prayer, men in love with the Lord. We promised we would worthily celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We promised we would be good, gentle and humble shepherds for God’s people, and that we would faithfully teach and preach the Gospel and the teachings of the church. We also promised we would care more for God’s flock than for our own needs, comforts and desires. I am so grateful to my brother priests for the ministry they live out day after day after day. Through our priestly ministry, we make Christ the priest present, and we do it when we are energized and when we are tired, when it’s convenient and when it’s inconvenient. I do not take my brother priests’ ministry for granted.
Last month, when Pope Francis was reflecting on the meaning of Holy Orders, he reminded priests throughout the world of the words of Jesus: “Whoever would be great among you must be the servant of the rest.” And then Pope Francis said, “A bishop who is not at the service of the community fails to perform his duty.” And then he went on, “A priest who is not of service to the community fails to perform his duty.”
So, how can we make sure we are at the service of the community? Francis reminds us that it is through our daily and intimate prayer, through daily listening to the Word of God and pondering it in our hearts, through celebrating the Eucharist, and through regularly celebrating the sacrament of penance. We can join with Francis himself and say, “Yes, I am a sinner.” In spite of our own unworthiness, the Lord has called us to become humble servants willing to be of service to the community.
The other thing people commented on after Mass was the opening of the synod. Obviously, this is a historic moment. On April 25, we celebrate the 221st anniversary of the founding of the diocese. In this historic time, we are calling forth a synod to look back and appreciate those 221 years but also to look forward and ask what God’s plans and priorities are for us. I thought the opening of the synod was done in a very simple but celebratory way, which included the priests, the deacons, the religious and the people of God all witnessing the beginning of this.
Did you get any comments after Mass?
I did. People were very grateful about the opening of the synod, and they liked the proclamation. They were grateful they could be part of this historic moment.
You are really encouraging people to participate in the consultative sessions for the synod. (See Synod Consultative Sessions.)
We’re asking people in general to come. We’re also asking each pastor to send three to five members of the parish’s pastoral council, finance council and those people who serve on the staff or serve in various lay ministries. That way we will hear not only from the general populace but also from the people who are involved in the day-to-day workings of a parish. This is an exciting time.