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May the Year for Priests lead all priests to identify totally with the Crucified and Risen Jesus so that, in imitation of St John the Baptist, they may be prepared to decrease that Christ may increase and that, in following the example of the Cure d'Ars, they feel constantly and profoundly the responsibility of their mission, which is the sign and presence of God's infinite mercy. Let us entrust to Our Lady, Mother of the Church, the Year for Priests which has just begun and all the priests of the world. (Pope Benedict XVI)

The Year for Priests can have meaning only in relationship to you, the holy and priestly people of God, whom we priests are called to serve.  Our priesthood has no meaning whatever apart from you. St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, said it all when he wrote: the priest is not for himself; he is for you!    So the Year of the Priest is, in a sense, as much about the people we serve as it is about us.  It's as much about you as it is about me.  (Father Ryan)


A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
 
Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Priest,
we thank you for our priests,
who minister among us in your name.
Bless them and keep them,
that they may be wise and gentle servants of your Gospel,
filled with compassion
for the poor, the sick, and the sinner.
In this Year for Priests,
may many generous men hear the call
to priestly ministry in the Church.
And may all your holy people
work together to build the earthly city,
with hearts set on that Kingdom
where you live and reign
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

ST. JOHN VIANNEY: THE PATRON SAINT OF PRIESTS

On August 4, we observe the memorial of St. John Vianney (1786-1859). Pope Benedict XVI has declared this 150th anniversary of the saint s death to be the Year for Priests (June 19, 2009 June 19, 2010). He has also named St. John Vianney long the patron saint of parish priests the patron saint of all priests.  This is a special time to pray for our priests and for vocations to the priesthood.

LIFE OF THE SAINT

St. Jean-Marie Vianney (1786-1859) was not the most likely candidate to become the patron saint of priests:  in fact, he was almost expelled from seminary because of his inability to master Latin!  But thanks in large part to the care and guidance of his own parish priest, Father Balley, he was ordained a priest in August, 1815.  Two years later he was appointed cure, or pastor, of the tiny village of Ars in southern France.

The story is told that in the heavy fog the saint lost his way to Ars and stopped to ask a boy for directions.  The boy pointed out the right road, and Jean-Marie told him:  "You have shown me the way to Ars.  Now I will show you the way to Heaven."   And that is exactly what he did.  By his incessant prayer, fasting, pleading, preaching, visiting, he was an irresistible force for good in the tired and depressed little village.  Within a few years, Ars was a different place, and word began to spread about the holy Cure of Ars.   Pilgrims came to hear him preach and especially to go to confession to him. By the end of his life, the Cure spent up to eighteen hours a day in the confessional; people waited in line for as long as three days to confess to him.

His frankness was proverbial.  One man passed through the village with his dog, just to see what the fuss was about.  He was converted instantly when the saint, passing by, saw him and said: "Sir, it is greatly to be wished that your soul were as beautiful as your dog!"   Hundreds of similar stories are told of the intense impact of his transparent simplicity and holiness.  St. John Vianney was canonized by Pius XI in 1925.
 
WORDS OF THE SAINT

On Priesthood:
 The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love.
 The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you.
 
On Prayer:
 To approach God, one should go straight to him, like a ball from a cannon.
 Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.

 

LINKS

Explore Vatican resources for the Year for Priests, including homilies, reflections, and even a video message from Pope Benedict XVI! http://www.vatican.va/special/anno_sac/index_en.html 

Watch videos and find an array of prayers, articles, and other resources at the official website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. http://www.usccb.org/yearforpriests/ 



 

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Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303