They traveled from parishes far and near, large and small, in all four corners of the Diocese.
Many of them were born here – in the cities, towns, and hamlets of Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Schuylkill, and Carbon counties – though a handful are from countries around the world.
But perhaps the most remarkable statistic about the men who serve as priests in the Diocese of Allentown is their tenure:
The 87 priests who joined Bishop Alfred Schlert at the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena Wednesday have a total of 2,571 years on the job – a combined 25 centuries of Priestly service to people of the Diocese.
The Chrism Mass typically is the largest gathering of priests all year, and it is the Mass in which priests of the Diocese renew their commitment to Priestly Service.
The priests who came to concelebrate the Mass filled many rows in a large section of the Cathedral, and were joined by deacons, seminarians, consecrated religious, and a packed house of the lay faithful.
After the Bishop’s homily, the priests rose as a group and the Bishop asked them a series of questions about whether they are resolved to be “more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to Him,” and whether they are resolved to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist” and “moved only by zeal for souls.”
They answered each question with, “I am.”
“Brothers, I truly thank you for your commitment and desire to live your Priesthood after the love of the Heart of Jesus,” the Bishop said in his homily. “You are treasures for our people. With God’s grace, we once again commit ourselves to be faithful ministers of Word and Sacrament, so that we can be ‘precious gifts of divine mercy’ to those we serve.”
The Chrism Mass takes its name from the Sacred Chrism, the oil used at the Ordination of Priests and Bishops, and at Baptisms and Confirmations.
At the Mass, the Bishop consecrated the Sacred Chrism and blessed two other oils, the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens. After the Mass, priests picked up containers of these oils for use at their parishes during the year, and any oils left over from last year will be buried or burned.
Also at the Chrism Mass, Priest Jubilarians – those celebrating a milestone anniversary of Ordination – were acknowledged.
2023 Priest Jubilarians:
65th Anniversary – Class of 1958: Reverend Charles J. Dene
55th Anniversary – Class of 1968: Reverend Monsignor Vincent P. York
50th Anniversary – Class of 1973: Reverend William J. Linkchorst; Reverend Leo J. Maletz; Reverend Monsignor Francis P. Schoenauer; Reverend James J. Ward.
25th Anniversary – Class of 1998: Reverend Jaya K. Francis, M.S.C.; Reverend Dominic Thao Pham, Very Reverend Adam C. Sedar, Reverend Barnabas Shayo, A.J.
10th Anniversary – Class of 2013: Reverend Joseph S. Ganser
In addition, those gathered remembered priests and deacons who have died in the past year: Reverend William T. Campion, Reverend Joseph D. Hulko, Reverend Stephen J. Halubura, Deacon Michael J. Boyle, Deacon Jose Gonzalez, Deacon John A. Hanni, Deacon Ronald R. Pasquino.