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At Chrism Mass, bishop reminds to 'rely on Jesus'

April 17, 2019

METUCHEN – Speaking to a full cathedral at the April 15 Chrism Mass, Bishop James F. Checchio reminded the faithful and the more than 125 priests gathered at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi to “rely deeply on Jesus Christ, facing whatever suffering comes our way, both from outside the Church and even from within.”

“We have certainly had a year of suffering,” Checchio said, citing the news of Theodore McCarrick, priestly scandals and inaction by some bishops in forthrightly facing the tragedies.

"As I travel throughout our diocese, I am so often asked to pray for people who are experiencing this suffering and other suffering, too," Checchio said. He noted, in particular, those suffering from "the opioid crisis that affects people of all ages in our parishes, deaths in families, illness and sickness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and economic hardships," though the list is endless, he said.

The bishop remarked that even after the Triumph of the Cross, there is suffering, and it can be tempting to ask the Lord why suffering continues to exist.

“I believe the Lord is calling us to something as a diocese through all this personal and communal suffering,” Checchio said to the hundreds who filled the Cathedral. “The Church is very much alive as Christ continues to move in the hearts of His faithful followers, but often in disguised ways in the lives of those experiencing great suffering,” he said.

The bishop concelebrated the Mass with priests from around the Diocese of Metuchen, which serves Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties. At the Mass, those priests celebrating significant anniversaries of their ordination were recognized and all priests present made a renewal of their priestly promises.

“This being the Chrism Mass, I am particularly thinking of our priests today,” he said. Speaking to the priests of the challenging circumstances they face, Checchio said, “We are to model for our people what a share of Christ’s suffering looks like in our own lives.”

The annual Chrism Mass, traditionally celebrated during Holy Week, commemorates the founding of the priesthood by Christ. Also, during the Mass, the bishop blesses the oils that will be used by all parishes in the Diocese of Metuchen to administer the sacraments throughout the year, including blessing of the sick, preparation for those who will receive baptism, confirmation and orders of the priesthood as well as the dedication of sacred altars.

Bishop Checchio is scheduled to preside at Holy Week and Easter liturgies and services throughout the Diocese of Metuchen. To see his full Holy Week schedule or to watch a live broadcast of the liturgies and services, visit

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