Argyll & The Isles Diocese celebrated their Chrism Mass on 24 March in St. Columba’s Cathedral, Oban. Bishop Toal concelebrated with a large number of diocesan priests, including Fr. Colin McInnes who was home from South America. Before the Mass, the Diocesan choir remembered one of their members, Mrs. Celia MacDonald who had recently died, and they quietly sang “Receive her soul”
The Mass then began with the opening procession, to the singing of “Praise to the Holiest”. Bishop Toal, in his welcome to all present, asked the congregation to remember not only Mrs. MacDonald in their prayers but also the brother of Fr. MacLennan who had died that day.
Later, in his homily, Bishop Toal referred to the recent meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Edinburgh which had given the Bishops the opportunity to take part in the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Archbishop Romero had fought against injustice and was considered by so many as a prophet and martyr who embodied especially two characteristics of his Lord- prophetic witness and the giving of himself for others and for the Gospel.
Referring then to the first reading from Isaiah, the Bishop reminded the congregation that we are all called and anointed for the service of God, but for priests it is a specific anointing and calling to proclaim the Gospel and be configured to Christ in order to make Him visible to others. It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon of criticism of the Church and its ministers at this time but the Church is a family and we must pray for each other. In particular we should pray for a renewal of priestly commitment. He finished with a prayer that our sense of community and mission in the Diocese would grow ever stronger.
As the congregation stood in support, the priests present then renewed their vows of commitment. This was followed by the blessing of the Holy Oils, which were brought in procession through the Cathedral as the congregation sang “Hail Redeemer”.
The Mass continued joyfully, with the Sanctus, Memorial, Great Amen and Agnus being sung. The processional hymn at the end, “Blest be the Lord”, sent the congregation and concelebrants out singing to enjoy the hospitality of the Cathedral community in the Hall before they returned to their homes or, in some cases, to their hotels.
The following day, Bishop Toal celebrated the Mass of the Annunciation, with musical support from some of the Diocesan Choir who had stayed over. Bishop Toal commented that in a sense, the Liturgical Year never lets up, as we move from the celebration of one event to the next. The theme of the Annunciation is that of the acceptance of God’s will – something which should happen for each of us every day, and should be part of our prayer.