Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, the incorrupt heart of St Jean Marie Vianney was on a tour of the United States from November 2018 to June 2019. These photos were taken by ChurchPOP English editor Jacqueline Burkepile:
POPE WRITES LETTER TO PRIESTS: GRATITUDE, ENCOURAGEMENT, PRAISE
Written in Spanish, Pope Francis’ Letter to Priests on the 160th anniversary of the death of the Cure d’Ars, St. Jean Marie Vianney, was also released by the Holy See Press Office in Italian, French, English, German, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic. He died on August 4, 1859.
Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was a parish priest in Ars, France, known for his sanctity of life. Canonized in Rome in 1925 by Pope Pius X, he is venerated as the patron saint of pastors in the Church. His incorrupt body and heart are in the shrine dedicated to him in Ars.
Pope Francis’ letter begins: “Dear Brothers, A hundred and sixty years have passed since the death of the holy Curé of Ars, whom Pope Pius XI proposed as the patron of parish priests throughout the world. On this, his feast day, I write this letter not only to parish priests but to all of you, my brother priests, who have quietly “left all behind” in order to immerse yourselves in the daily life of your communities. Like the Curé of Ars, you serve “in the trenches”, bearing the burden of the day and the heat, confronting an endless variety of situations in your effort to care for and accompany God’s people.
“I want to say a word to each of you who, often without fanfare and at personal cost, amid weariness, infirmity and sorrow, carry out your mission of service to God and to your people. Despite the hardships of the journey, you are writing the finest pages of the priestly life. Some time ago, I shared with the Italian bishops my worry that, in more than a few places, our priests feel themselves attacked and blamed for crimes they did not commit. I mentioned that priests need to find in their bishop an older brother and a father who reassures them in these difficult times, encouraging and supporting them along the way.
“As an older brother and a father, I too would like in this letter to thank you in the name of the holy and faithful People of God for all that you do for them, and to encourage you never to forget the words that the Lord spoke with great love to us on the day of our ordination. Those words are the source of our joy: “I no longer call you servants… I call you friends” (Jn 15:15).”
The Holy Father writes of the pain of the sex abuse scandal and of gratitude for vocation, recalling that, “vocation, more than our choice, is a response to a free call from the Lord.” He thanks his brother priests “for their fidelity to their commitments”. It is “truly significant” – he observes – that in a “ephemeral” society and culture, there are people who discover the joy of giving life.
Pope Francis writes that the “heart of a pastor is one who has developed a spiritual taste for being one with his people, a pastor who never forgets that he has come from them…this in turn will lead to adopting a simple and austere way of life, rejecting privileges that have nothing to do with the Gospel.”
Another important word for Francis is encouragement: The mission to which we are called does not exempt us from suffering, pain and even misunderstanding. Rather, it requires us to face them squarely and to accept them, so that the Lord can transform them and conform us more closely to himself.”
The papal letter ends: “Brothers, once again, I continually give thanks for you… May we allow our gratitude to awaken praise and renewed enthusiasm for our ministry of anointing our brothers and sisters with hope. May we be men whose lives bear witness to the compassion and mercy that Jesus alone can bestow on us.”