St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, has inspired generation of priests
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. John Vianney (August 4, 2020): JER 30:1-2,12-15,18-22; PS 102:16-18,19-21,29,22-23; MT 14:22-36
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
St. John Vianney spent his whole priestly ministry striving to encourage all to a deeper faith and love for God. He prayed, “Lord, grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever You wish, for my entire life.” He went to the small town of Ars, France, in 1818, while in his thirties and remained there serving his people for the next four decades. He had always longed to be a priest, but his studies had not come easily. Only the patient coaching of a priest who saw potential in young John got him through his seminary education.
As parish priest at Ars, St. John Vianney threw himself into his work. He founded an orphanage for girls and taught catechism to adults and children. He worked to get his parishioners away from the excessive drinking and blasphemy that were so common. He soon became especially respected and sought after for his spiritual guidance during confession. His reputation extended beyond France and he had to meet with penitents between 11 and 16 hours a day to help the many who came to him. Yet he remained a gentle, patient, prayerful man concerned for the souls of all he met. He told people that, “It is your duty so to practice the Christian virtues that even unbelievers shall admire them.… Do not delay, dear Christian, to conform your life to the life of Christ, and thereby to give testimony of Him.” St. John Vianney died at age 73 and 300 hundred priests and 6,000 people attended his funeral. Canonized in 1925, he was named the patron saint of parish priests four years later.
Suggested missionary action: Let us pray to St. John Vianney to protect and guide all priests, particularly those who work in the missions of the Church. We can also ask him to intercede with our Lord for more vocations to the priesthood.