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"No matter where we are, we are together": Parishes remain together during Holy Week

Holy Week is fast approaching and parishes around the diocese, as are their counterparts around the state and country, are continuing to come up with new ways to worship together. The ideas for how to celebrate Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday differ depending on where one attends Mass. Still, there are most certainly ways to do so at nearly every parish within the diocese.

Chrism Mass 2021: Rejoice, renew and restore

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Savannah, Ga. - Celebrating his first Chrism Mass as Bishop of Savannah, Stephen D. Parkes, D.D. made a point during his homily to connect this inaugural experience to the year of St. Joseph. “There is something that I see in St. Joseph – he was authentic. Joseph knew who he was” said Parkes as he walked back and forth in front of the pews filled with his brother priests from parishes throughout the diocese. All had made their way to Savannah for a celebration that could not take place in this manner last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “[Joseph] was a quiet man, a very smart man because he didn’t talk at all, that we know of, in the scriptures. I think that was wise. But he knew what was in his heart. He had a pure heart. He accepted God’s will. Joseph was authentic to who God created him to be, even when he was full of weaknesses.”

Parkes used a recent trip to St. Simons Island to visit Monsignor John Kenneally to further reflect on the theme of authenticity. He told the assembled priests and a small gathering of worshippers what Kenneally said in response to his asking him what advice he had for him during his first year as Bishop of Savannah. The Bishop said Kenneally’s eyes brightened before he responded to the Bishop with a poignant yet straightforward piece of advice, “Be yourself, he said.”  

 The Chrism Mass, which took place at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, is a unique celebration of the blessing of the three oils used in the Church to anoint the sick, to protect young and old before baptism, and to consecrate someone or something to the service of God. The oils signify the universal charisms of the Church – healing, faith building, and consecration – and the Chrism Mass is a reminder of our share in these charisms through the sacraments.  

During his homily, Parkes also spoke of his travels around the diocese. “Over the past six months and seven days – but who’s counting –” he joked, “I have made it around the diocese, I haven’t been everywhere yet, but I will. There’s a lot of fertile ground here, my friends. Sometimes we have to take a step back and take the long view like the Lord did before he made any decisions.” 

 He continued, “There’s a lot of wonder and potential here. My friends, my brothers, we are called to produce that fruit. We are threads in the fabric that is the Diocese of Savannah. As leaders of the communities, as being able to proclaim the word of God and build the Kingdom, we have to ask ourselves what is the Lord asking of us here and now? How do we reflect, renew and rejoice? It has been my honor and privilege over these last few months to get to know you, the priests of the diocese.” 

 The Annual Renewal of Commitment to Priestly Service took place afterward. All of priests stood to answer the Bishop’s call to order, in which he asked a series of questions followed by the priests answering in unison, “I am.” Do we want to add the actual words of the renewal rite at the end of the article? It is very beautiful!!  The sound of 60-plus You might want to text Fr. Pablo and check the #s with him. I am pretty sure he said nearly 90 priests were coming. priests acknowledging their commitment to God echoed throughout the cathedral.  

 The Blessing of the Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens, and Chrism) and Consecration of the Chrism took place next. Pairs of priests, and in one case a pair of diocesan employees, Paul Nott and Caroline Ebberwein presented the Oil of the Catechumens to the Bishop for the blessing. The Bishop then blessed the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens. He then added balsam to the Chrism Oil and extended his hands to bless it. The Bishop bowed and breathed over the urn of Chrism, symbolizing the Holy Spirit coming down to consecrate the oil, and the sanctifying nature of the sacraments for which it is used. Continuing with the blessing, the Bishop extended his hands, and all the priests joined him in the consecration of the oils, signifying the authority of the priesthood. 

 Bishop Parkes closed the Mass by saying to all in attendance, “May He bestow his grace upon you.”  

 Furthermore may those oils making their way back to parishes in Albany, Bainbridge, Columbus, Darien, and parts closer and further from Savannah, bestow grace upon parishioners in need and in preparation for what is next on their spiritual journeys. And may the priests of this diocese continue to be renewed while rejoicing and restoring their commitments to service.




Representing the good teachings of Christ on Holy Thursday and beyond


Kathleen, Ga.- The sanctuary at St. Patrick Church, Kathleen slowly filled to near capacity Thursday evening. The Holy Thursday Mass is always popular with the middle Georgians that attend the parish and this year’s Mass was no different despite being in the middle of a global pandemic. The seating at St. Patrick is spread out across the large space that is the sanctuary for better social-distancing but that did nothing to stop Father Eric Filmer, the pastor at St. Patrick, and deacon James Roberge, from greeting parishioners minutes before Mass was scheduled to begin. 

Holy Thursday Mass is the celebration of the Last Supper and Jesus’ establishment of Holy Communion. That night he and his Disciples gathered for what would be his final meal, and now people of St. Patrick Church gathered for, not a meal of food per say, but for a spiritual meal. “Did you ever wonder what was the first quoting of Jesus Christ put into writing?,” said Filmer during his homily that night. He was referring to the Gospel reading of the day, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 in which Jesus establishes both the Eucharist and the celebration of Holy Communion. “That was Jesus emphasizing what the Holy Eucharist is for,” said Filmer. “In those words Christ also instituted the priesthood. I am very thankful for the priesthood. It gives me meaning for life, it’s also what I do for a living.” The laughter that filled the sanctuary following those words further symbolized the mood in church that night. 

Due to the pandemic many parishes around the country will refrain from having the washing of the feet, a symbolic celebration that normally takes place on Holy Thursday. There was no washing of the feet last night but Filmer made sure to mention the importance of what that means during Holy Week. “Jesus performed the task of a servant, and we normally repeat it because it’s symbolic of humble service to others,” said Filmer. 

During his homily Filmer mentioned the ongoing trial of disgraced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the recent attacks on Asian-Americans. “The Gospel teaches us to represent the good teachings of Christ,” he said. “We are the ones who are to be ambassadors of Christ. As we look at Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples, know that there can be no task too demeaning for us to do.” 

A laptop broadcasting the Mass via the parish Facebook page lay upon a lectern at the back of the room. Following Mass the sanctuary remained opened for an additional hour and a half for quiet prayer and reflection. A family of six; father, mother, a pair of sons and a pair of daughters, remained in their seats praying together.

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Southern Cross
Catholic Pastoral Center
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Savannah, GA 31404
Phone: 912-201-4054
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