St. John Valley

Bishop celebrates Mass of the Holy Oils in Fort Kent

FORT KENT, Maine — Bishop Robert Deeley traveled to St. Louis Church in Fort Kent on the Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17, to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Oils with priests, deacons and parishioners from northern and eastern Maine parishes.

During the Mass, oils that will be used in the sacraments during the upcoming year were ceremonially presented to the bishop and distributed to priests to take back to their communities.

“These oils — oil of the catechumens, oil of the sick, sacred chrism — each of them is a privileged channel of grace. They are given to us by the Lord Jesus himself for our life and salvation. And he provides them for us through the unique and vital ministry of our priests. We do, indeed, give thanks for the gift of generosity of so many people who, open to the Spirit guiding their service to the Church, help to build up the Church. Such ministry is essential to the life of the Church, “ the bishop said.

The oil of the sick is used to anoint the sick, the oil of the catechumens is used for baptism, and the sacred chrism is used for baptism, confirmation, ordinations, and the consecration of altars and churches.

The oils were blessed and consecrated by the bishop during the Chrism Mass, which was held April 16 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. While priests, deacons and parishioners from southern and central parts of the diocese traditionally gather for that Mass, it has long been customary in the Diocese of Portland for the bishop to carry the oils north the next day so that he can celebrate Holy Week with the faithful there.

During the Mass at St. Louis Church, the oils were brought forward by parishioner Jane Rioux, who is also a nurse at the Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, and Ruth Roy and Meghan Dumont, two members of the Elect.

The Mass of the Holy Oils is also an opportunity for members of the presbyterate to renew their priestly promises. Standing before the bishop, they again resolved to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepherd.”

In his homily, the bishop offered words of encouragement to the priests of the diocese and thanked them for their faithful service and perseverance.

Parishioners join in the celebration during the Mass of the Holy Oils on Wednesday, April 17. Bishop Robert P. Deeley traveled north to St. Louis Church in Fort Kent for the Mass, bringing with him the consecrated oils for distribution to County parishes.
(Courtesy of the Diocese of Portland)

“Though it can be difficult, particularly in a world which does not want to acknowledge the transcendent life of God, the gestures and the work of the ministry which is yours provide the means by which you do what the Lord asks of you. It is often in the simple things that grace truly abounds,” the bishop said. “It is in the fidelity to your mission that you will be the source of grace, even when you are unaware that God is working through you.”

During the Mass, the congregation joined in praying for the priests, as well as for Bishop Deeley and all the bishops of the world, all the baptized, and all who have died. The bishop also offered words of prayer in solidarity with the people of France, who will not be able to celebrate Holy Week at their beloved Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

“May we rely on the intercession of Mary, our Mother. Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, she is the patroness of our cathedral and our diocese, even as she is for the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. With gratitude for God’s goodness in our hearts. we pray for ourselves and for the people of France, whose temple to God’s glory has been so marred by this destructive fire.”

A special Holy Week section is available on the Diocese of Portland website that includes Mass times at all Maine parishes, listings of parish events, daily prayers and reflections, and many other resources. Visit

In addition, pictures and videos from many Masses, services, and events throughout Holy Week will be posted on the diocesan website (, the diocesan Facebook page (, and the diocesan Twitter page (

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