Bishop to priests: Draw closer to God

Apr 14, 2022
The Holy Chrism (left), the Oil of Catechumens (center), and the Oil of the Sick are blessed at the Chrism Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine, Mary Queen of the Universe, Orlando, April 13, 2022. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

ORLANDO  |  The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe once again opened its doors to more than 1,000 faithful arriving to celebrate the Chrism Mass, a prelude to the holiest of Catholic days, the Triduum, and to honor 10 jubilarians in the diocese.

A Mass steeped in Catholic tradition, Bishop John Noonan celebrated the Mass surrounded by his brother priests who serve the Diocese of Orlando. Among them were jubilarians celebrating milestone anniversaries.

Preaching the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Bishop Noonan proclaimed to the faithful — especially the clergy — “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me.” He asked priests to reflect on their on their Ordination when they were anointed with the Oil of Chrism.

The bishop also recalled the words of Pope Francis many times during his homily. “Priests have had to learn to respond to the needs and challenges of their people and times,” the bishop said, quoting the pontiff in regards to the challenges of ministering during the pandemic. “(T)here was no easy way to minister to the people because of uncertainty and political turmoil.”

Bishop Noonan said a strong prayer life is necessary for priests, because without it a person’s spiritual life could be reduced to a “mere religious practice.” Fortifying and encouraging his brother priests, the bishop shared details of his own prayer and Sacramental life, explaining otherwise, it is easy for a priest to fail to persevere.

Deacon Juan Cruz, St. Mary Magdalen, carried the Holy Chrism, a mixture of olive oil and perfume, consecrated by the bishop and priests of our diocese to anoint infants after Baptism, those who are to be confirmed, and bishops and priests at their ordination and the blessing of altars. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

He also reflected upon what Pope Francis called the four pillars of priestly life: “closeness to God, closeness to the bishop, closeness to fellow priests, and closeness to the people of God.” Those pillars act as “sign posts” that point towards a path where the priests can appreciate and rekindle their “missionary zeal.”

“The more a priest is drawn closer to God, the more he becomes fulfilled in ministering to the people, which in turn deepens the spiritual life of the people and the priest,” Bishop Noonan said.

The bishop also touched upon how technology places a role in everyday life. He said while certain technology simplifies life, it must not get in the way of fostering a closeness to God.

“God can’t be our virtual friend,” Bishop Noonan said. “He has to be a real friend in the life of a priest.”

“In confession recently, a priest’s phone said to the penitent, ‘This is Siri. Can you repeat the question please?’” The shrine filled with laughter at the comment, yet when the bishop when his tone became more somber. “Siri is not the one who forgives. You (priests) are the instruments of God’s healing mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.”

Eight of the 10 jubilarians pictured with their plaques. From left: Father Augusto Cadavid, Father Augustine Clark, Father Rogelio Landeta, Father Waldemar Maciag, Father Andrew Chien Nguyen, Father Fidel Rodriguez-Cuza, Father Jaroslaw Sztybel, and Father Shenoy Thomas, MC, celebrated their 25th anniversary of Ordination. Father Joseph Pinchock celebrates his 50th anniversary but was unable to attend as well as Father Titus Kachinda who celebrates his 25th anniversary. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

During the Mass, the bishop and faithful paid tribute to 10 priest jubilarians who glorify God with their lives. Those in attendance all celebrate their silver jubilee —25 years of priesthood — in 2022. They include Fathers Augusto Cadavid, Augustine Clark, Rogelio Landeta, Waldemar Maciag, Andrew Chien Nguyen, Fidel Rodriguez-Cuza, OCD, Jaroslaw Sztybel, and Shenoy Thomas, MC. Silver jubilarian Father Titus Kachinda and Father Joseph Pinchock, the diocese’s only golden jubilarian with 50 years of priesthood, both could not attend the Chrism Mass.

Historically, the oils to be used for the Sacraments are blessed during the Chrism Mass. Three deacons served to bring forth the oils to the bishop at the altar. Deacon Stephen Knych of Corpus Christi brought forth the Oil of the Sick, which is used for the healing of mind, body and spirit. Deacon Elbert Pagan of St. Rose of Lima carried forth the Oil of Catechumens for the anointing of those preparing for Baptism to be strengthened by Christ to resist the power of evil in all its forms. And Deacon Juan Cruz, of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Altamonte Springs, carried the Holy Chrism, a mixture of olive oil and perfume, consecrated by the bishop and priests of our diocese to anoint infants at Baptism, those who are to be confirmed, and bishops and priests at their ordination. It is also used to anoint altars and churches at the time of their dedication.

Following the celebration, each parish pastor or parochial administrator takes a portion back to their parish to anoint their parishioners receiving the graces bestowed by each Sacrament.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic Staff, April 14, 2022