TYLER – Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has changed the time of the Chrism Mass, celebrated during Holy Week.

The Chrism Mass will be celebrated March 22 at 11 a.m. in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, rather than in the evening as in past years.

During the Mass, Bishop Strickland will bless and distribute the sacramental oils to be used in the coming liturgical year: the oil of catechumens, used at baptism; sacred chrism, used at baptism and ordinations; and the oil of the sick, used in anointing of the sick.

“I have made the decision to change the format of the Chrism Mass day in order to help our priests with their responsibilities during the very busy days of Holy Week,” Bishop Strickland said. “The most significant change is that I have moved the mass to midday rather than in the evening.”

The change, Bishop Strickland said, was to ease the schedules of priests, who celebrate a number of evening Masses during Holy Week, and to accommodate those priests who must drive long distances from their parishes to Tyler.

“I realize this change may make it impossible for some of the laity to attend, but I want them to know they are very much welcome if they can attend,” the bishop said. “The blessing of the Holy Oils and renewal of priestly commitment which are highlighted at the Chrism Mass are beautiful moments for the faithful of the diocese to witness. I ask that all of the faithful remember their beloved priests on this special day even if they are not able to attend.”

TYLER – Msgr. Samuel S. Metzger, a priest of the Diocese of Tyler since its founding in 1986, has died.

He had been living in a retirement residence for priests in Plano since his retirement from active ministry in 2009. He was 83.

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland will celebrate Mass of Christian Burial Feb. 20 at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Plano. The graveside service will be at Calvary Hill Cemetery in Dallas at 1 p.m.

Rosary will be Thursday, Feb. 18, 6-7 p.m., in St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Plano.

He was born in Dallas on May 29, 1932, and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Dallas on May 9, 1959, by his uncle, Bishop Sydney Metzger.

He spent the early years of his ministry as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Dallas; Christ the King Church, Dallas; St. Alice Church, Fort Worth; St. Cecilia Church, Dallas; and St. Elizabeth Church, Dallas.

He was pastor of Our Lady of Victory Church in Paris; St. Michael Church, McKinney; St. Edward Church, Athens; and St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church, Fairfield.

Msgr. Metzger served his longest tenure in East Texas as pastor of St. Edward Church in Athens, from 1984-1998, as well as its missions of St. Therese in Canton and St. Jude in Gun Barrel City.

He was serving in Athens when the Diocese of Tyler was created from the Dioceses of Dallas, Beaumont, and Galveston-Houston, and thus became one of the original 39 priests serving some 30,000 Catholics in 41 parishes and missions spread out over 32 counties.

“We were a real close-knit group, I guess maybe because there were so few of us,” he recalled of that founding cadre of priests in a 2009 interview with Catholic East Texas. “There were only 30-something of us at the time, and we were spread over a pretty big area. Of course, we also had to get to know each other, because we’d come from three different dioceses. Those of us who’d come from Dallas already knew each other, but we had to get to know the men from Beaumont and Houston.”

As one of those “original men,” Msgr. Metzger served the fledgling diocese on a number of councils and boards, including the Presbyteral Council and the Priests’ Personnel Board. He was dean of the West Central Deanery, director of the Apostleship of Prayer, and a diocesan consultor, helping to elect a diocesan administrator when the sitting bishop died or was moved.

Under his pastorate in Athens, St. Edward purchased a lot and house adjacent to the church and remodeled it into CCD classrooms. He oversaw the construction of an education building for St. Therese, and, ultimately, the construction of a new church in 1997.

He also saw St. Therese and St. Jude in Gun Barrel City, another mission of St. Edward, elevated to parishes.

In 1996, he was named monsignor and designated a prelate of honor by Pope John Paul II, one of five priests from the diocese so honored at the time.

For all his work in building parishes and missions, Msgr. Metzger said his two primary loves as a priest were working with converts and anointing the sick.

“I love working with converts,” he said. “Any time you can bring anyone into the faith, it’s always fulfilling. There’s a hunger for faith in this area, and we have to meet it. People need the Church.”

Anointing the sick, he said, gave another kind of satisfaction.

“I like being able to be with people in that situation,” he said, “people who are sick or dying, who are facing their mortality. As a minister of that sacrament, I can bring them peace. It’s satisfying knowing I’ve helped people prepare for whatever comes, whether that’s recovery or death.”

In more than a half century of priesthood, Msgr. Metzger saw many changes, both in the Church as a whole, and in the Diocese of Tyler.

“It’s been a good life,” he said in that 2008 interview. “It’s really been something else.”

TYLER – More than 160 couples celebrating anniversaries in 2016 marked World Marriage Day and National Marriage Week with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph E. Strickland at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.

This is the third year-in-a-row- that the Diocese of Tyler has held the special Mass which normally takes place around St. Valentine’s Day. Collectively, those present for the Mass and reception represented more than 7,000 years of marriage.

See our full photo gallery from this event>>>

Sixty-nine couples present for the Mass were celebrating more than 50 years of marriage, and received a special certificate from Bishop Strickland.

All the couples who attended received a copy of the book, Not Just Good, But Beautiful in which Pope Francis and four hundred religious leaders and scholars from around the world explore marriage and “the complementarity of man and woman.”

National Marriage Week is a collaborative campaign to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture, which in turn helps curtail poverty and benefits children.

HAVANA (CNA/EWTN News) – Christian brotherhood and unity were the focus of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill when they met on Friday afternoon in Havana.

“We spoke as brothers,” Pope Francis said. “We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We spoke of our Churches.”

“We agreed that unity is created by journeying together,” he told a gathering of Catholic and Orthodox clergy and reporters after his meeting with the patriarch.

He characterized the Feb. 12 conversation as open and authentic. It focused on “a series of initiatives that I believe are viable and can be realized.”

The Pope praised the patriarch’s humility, brotherhood, and deep desire for unity.

The first-ever meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of Moscow was held privately. Afterwards they signed a joint declaration that focused on several topics.

The declaration focused at length on anti-Christian persecution, especially in in the Middle East and North Africa. It lamented the hostilities in Ukraine. The declaration also voiced concern about the threat of secularism to religious freedom and the Christian roots of Europe.

Other topics of discussion included poverty, the crisis in the family, abortion and euthanasia. The Pope and the patriarch exhorted young Christians to live their faith in the world.

Patriarch Kirill characterized the private meeting as an open discussion “with full awareness of the responsibility of our Churches, for the future of Christianity, and for the future of human civilization.”

He said the conversation “gave us the opportunity to understand and hear the positions of the other.”

“The results of this allow me to assure you that the two Churches will continue to work closely together with Christians in all the world, and with full responsibility to work together against war, so that human life can develop in the entire world.”

Their conversation also aimed to strengthen “the bases of personal and family morality” through “the participation of the Church in the life of modern human society, that glorifies the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Pope told Patriarch Kirill before their private meeting “we’re brothers. It’s clear that this is the will of God.”

At the close of their remarks, Pope Francis thanked Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Cardinal Kurt Koch and their teams who had worked to organize the meeting. Metropolitan Hilarion heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s external church relations department, while Cardinal Koch heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“I do not wish to go forth from here without expressing my sense of gratitude for Cuba and for the Cuban people and for their president Raul Castro,” the Pope added. “I thank him for his acts of openness and readiness to give space for this, these talks of unity.”

He prayed: “Let all of this be done for the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and for the good of the holy people of God, under the protection of the Holy Mother of God.”

On Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10), our diocese will take up the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE). Many living in Central and Eastern Europe are still suffering the effects of living under communism. Grants funded by this collection are a source of hope to restore the Church and build the future in these areas.

The collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe supports those still struggling to cope with the aftermath of living under Soviet rule. Those in Eastern European countries and parts of Russia often experience poverty, infrequent pastoral care, and lack of buildings in which to worship. The Church in these areas still faces major challenges as it not only rebuilds church structures but continues to support the spiritual needs of its people. This collection allows us in the United States to restore the Church and build the future by supporting our brothers and sisters who experience these struggles on a daily basis.

For example, the people of Armenia face many challenges, and recovery from a devastating earthquake in the late 1980s and the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s has been difficult and slow. Many children in Armenia live on the street because of poor family situations or the need to earn their own money. The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have used a grant from CCEE to fund a summer camp for 850 children ages 8 to 15.

The camp is provided for children who are orphans, live in extreme poverty, or live in poor isolated villages. At camp, the children receive much-needed rest along with physical and spiritual support, all in a nurturing environment. Local and international volunteers help create an atmosphere of safety and trust while guiding and mentoring the children. Some of the camp activities include attending catechetical classes, going hiking and on field trips, and participating in sports and acting in theatrical presentations. While at camp, the children can experience the encouraging love and support of God and others.

In order for projects like this one to continue, the collection needs your help.

Please be generous in the collection. Your donation will continue to restore the Church and build the future of Central and Eastern Europe. Thank you, and God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

For more information on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, please visit www.usccb.org/ccee.