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Priesthood is a Gift of God: Archbishop Jala


By Bivan Mukhim SDB
His grace the archbishop of Shillong giving the final blessings
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Shillong, Mar. 27. Hundreds of Catholics in the city celebrated the Mass of Chrism at the Mary Help of Christians Cathedral Church at Laitumkhrah on Tuesday evening. The mass was offered by Shillong's Archbishop Dominic Jala SDB, in the presence of almost 170 priests of the archdiocese.
During the Mass, the priests renewed their promise of obedience to the archbishop and his successor, and renewed their commitment to pastoral ministry and service. ''This is a very special day for the priest,'' said Fr. Melitus Shylla, the Asst. Parish Priest of Mawlai Parish. The renewal of promises harkens back to the birth of the priesthood, when Christ entrusted his apostles to carry out his mission, Fr. Shylla said.

Chrism Mass, symbolizing the unity of the community of priesthood is a part of the ongoing Lenten observation and is generally observed on Maundy Thursday, a day before Good Friday. In the archdioceses and dioceses of North East the blessings of the Holy Oils is conducted on Tuesday of the Holy Week by the Bishop since all the priests have to be present in their respective parishes on Thursday for the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles.

On the occasion, the archbishop blessed three oils - the oil of catechumens, the oil of the infirm and the oil of Holy Chrism - which will be used in the administration of different sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination as well as the dedication of churches and altars throughout the diocese for the year. Blessing of the oil, usually olive oil, is a tradition being followed since the ancient times.

The archbishop underlined the importance of priests in the community, especially as the ones who give spiritual strength and mediate between God and people. Priesthood is the highest degree, as priests are the successors of Christ and St Peter, and are shepherds who gather His flock.

In his sermon the archbishop stressed on one of the important responsibilities of a priest, namely that ''A priest is called to be an instrument in bringing joy and happiness in the lives of the faithful. The situation where a priest could offer joy is the school, college, parishes, hospitals.'' He also reminded the priests to be always with the sick and the suffering. This, he said, is the heart of the mission of the priest.
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