Mass of Chrism

Mass of Chrism: Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly's last major public celebration

Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly was the Celebrant at the Mass of Chrism in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on the evening of Wednesday 27 March 2013.  It was the Archbishop's last major public celebration before retirement.

The packed congregation in the Cathedral included Merseyside's Church Leaders and priests from throughout the Archdiocese of Liverpool, who before the Blessing of the Oils, renewed their commitment to priestly service.  At the end of the Mass the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, paid tribute to Archbishop Kelly's work and the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese, Bishop Tom Williams, led the congregation in thanking Archbishop Patrick.

Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop Emeritus of Liverpool, at the Mass of Chrism on the Wednesday of Holy Week, 27 March 2013. 7.30 pm in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

Introduction to Mass:

This is a crazy night; on one level it is all wrong. Surely in Holy Week, as the storm clouds are gathering until the sky is totally dark at the ninth hour on Friday, we should come together to receive perhaps one of the mighty settings by Bach of the Passion of Our Lord. Instead: white vestments; songs of utter praise; and we sing what was first sung in worship as an Easter Hymn: the Gloria. The reason: we truly are a Paschal, a Passover people; we know: from the heart broken on the Cross, there flowed a stream of living water to renew the face of the earth. Tonight we give thanks because God has blest us in Christ with every blessing. Despondency gives way to praise. Jesus Christ loves us and has washed away our sins by his blood: we are a line of kings, priests to serve his God and our God, his Father and our Father. Through, with and in him we can proclaim: the Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. All God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. And this year our archdiocesan family is graced by the Leaders of the other Churches on Merseyside. We are not foolish; we feel our unity is not yet all the Lord prays that it shall be. But on this night we come in thanksgiving for what the Holy Spirit has accomplished not least here on Merseyside and Lancashire: Liverpool and Lancashire both knew days of violent conflict and terrible hatred. But we are certain: so long thy power has blest me; sure it still will lead me on.


My body clock is pretty firmly fixed into the academic year: my year runs from September to July because over and above my student years, the biggest chunk of my life as a priest was handed over to the formation of future priests at Saint Mary’s Oscott. So my year end is usually July and one thing firmly fixed in my heart and mind, at every year’s end, is this to allow my personal prayer to be shaped, formed, by the great hymn of praise the Te Deum. And I was faithful to that whatever sort of year was ending, whatever chaos and inadequacy there might have been in the preceding twelve months. Still I was determined at the end of the year to give thanks and praise. For the atmosphere in which, my brother priests live and move and have our being for the sake of those we are commissioned to serve is this as we proclaim over and over again at every Mass: ‘It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks.’ The only problem is this year I find myself earlier than usual having to live: Te Deum Laudamus, I am at a sort of year’s end, but the prayer must be the same: ‘We praise you O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord.’ The renewal of Priestly Promises which are the gift of the Holy Spirit for priests today was first brought into the Chrism Mass by the Great Pope Paul VI; to be honest when I heard there were to be such promises I dreaded it, because they came at a time when there were so many fears, confusion, failure, touching the priestly ministry. I had feared a negative, legalistic tone. How wrong I was. I commend as the atmosphere in which we make or witness these promises today these words of Saint Paul; I know I am not the only priest for whom they resonate deeply. ‘Now to him, who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.’

At the end of Mass Bishop James Jones paid tribute to Archbishop Patrick's work.

Bishop Tom Williams thanked Archbishop Patrick before the Final Blessing of the Mass.