The date for the Chrism Mass in the widely spread diocese of Argyll & the Isles has to be set with one eye on the ferry timetables to ensure everyone can be back at their parishes in plenty of time for the Holy Week services. This year, the celebration – Bishop Joseph Toal’s first Chrism Mass as Bishop – took place on 1 April.

In contrast to last year, the weather was fine and dry, and there was a good gathering of the community to celebrate with the Bishop. Many had travelled for several hours to be there. The music of the service was led by members of the Diocesan choir. One of the highlights was the first presentation of a new setting of psalm 88 by Gerry Fitzpatrick, sung by Frances Dunlop.

In his homily, Bishop Toal reminded the congregation that the calling to priestly service was a gift to each one of the baptised. The readings of the Mass (Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 in particular) showed what that service entailed. Priests and bishops were called to service in a particular way by anointing, in apostolic succession from the first apostles. It was their privilege to renew their vows of service at this Mass and he asked for the congregation’s prayers for their priests and bishops, that they would remain faithful to their calling. He concluded by recalling the words of Lumen Gentium on the unity of all members of the Church who have a true equality in their common bond which is founded on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The Mass finished to the joyful sound of “Though the mountains may fall” and the congregation gathered for the hospitality of the Cathedral in the Hall before they travelled home.