Friday, June 19, 2009


John Baptiste Mary Vianney (1786-1859) parish priest of the small remote French village of Ars-en-Dombes from 1818-1859. He was canonised in 1929.

One of the surprises I had on my first journey to England in 1989 was to see how many Anglo-Catholic parishes had a statue or picture of the Cure d'Ars, St John Vianney. Although we Aussies all knew him as the patron saint of parish priests (there will be a little bit about him on this blog on his feast day - 4th August) there has never been the same level of devotion to him among Australian Anglicans (or for that matter among Roman Catholics in these parts).

Pope Benedict has chosen the 150th anniversary of this godly man's death as the beginning of "The Year for Priests." Near the start of his letter, the Holy Father quotes St John Vianney:

"The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

In his letter the Pope speaks movingly of the example set for him by the priest at whose side he learned the priestly ministry. He quotes some of the most beautiful bits of St John Vianney; he speaks of the particular difficulties priests face in fulfilling their vocations, as well as the sufferings and pain that are uniquely theirs. He pays tribute to the priests of the Church, while acknowledging with sadness the special evil of abuses committed by a small minority of priests in our day. Drawing his letter to a conclusion, Benedict says: "Despite all the evil present in our world, Jesus' victory over sin and death gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence."

Go HERE to read Pope Benedict's letter.


Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for in your infinite love you care for your people
by the ministry of priests.

May their faithful service bring lasting good to your Church
and great happiness to them.

Help them to do what is right,
that by their teaching and living
we may grow in the knowledge of your love.

As our priests instruct your people,
enlighten them with the wisdom of Christ the Teacher.

As they preach your Word and celebrate the sacraments,
sanctify them with the holiness of Christ the High Priest.

As they face weakness, suffering and discouragement,
strengthen them with the grace of Christ the Life-Giver.

As they work for peace, unity and healing in your Church,
uphold them with the courage of Christ the Reconciler.

Giver of all good gifts,
make the ministry of our priests a spiritual offering pleasing to you,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

This prayer was written by
+ Bishop John F. Kinney
Bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud
(c) 2002 Diocese of St. Cloud.


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