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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Special Summer Week Continues

After the glorious marriage celebration (at the Croatian Hall) of my friends Brent & Dalma Weigelt, the special summer week continues.

I'm also glad to have re-visited and re-affirmed the connection between the Cathedral in St. Paul, MN and the feast Day of St. John Vianney (August 4th). For those of you who don't follow Catholic feast days, today marks the 150 Anniversary of this humble, venerated priest (1786-2009). Most biographies consistently remark how Vianney struggled in academia. As a young man, he was often criticized as a poor scholar and a hopeless seminarian. In fact, his aversion to military service wasn't welcomed either.

One might also reflect over his generation's abundant persecution, doubt, and evil... often consistent with the many modern-like threats that tempt us too. Yet to St. John Vianney, these grave concerns only strengthened and focused his prayer-life.

Along with a special priest who believed in his gifts, Vianney eventually passed his exams and was ordained as a local parish priest in Ars, France. Today, we know him as a beacon for his absolute commitment to the Sacraments and especially for his dedication to hearing confessions for thousands of European parishioners and priests. In June of this year - concluding the 2008-2009 "Year of St. Paul", Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a new "Year of the Priest" theme. St. John Vianney is the very WELCOME follow up.

If I may, let me quote from the Cathedral of St. Paul Bulletin (August 2, 2009) - Fr. Joseph R. Johnson (Rector)...

"St. John Vianney is also the secondary patron of our Archdiocese after St. Paul... This humble French parish priest was a seminary classmate of Mathias Lorcas, first bishop of Dubuque (IA). Bishop Lorcas came from that same region of eastern France and brought other colleagues as missionaries with him, including Joseph Cretin, first bishop of St. Paul! As a gift to the Missionaries in America, the bishop of their home diocese offered to educate their seminarians for them. Young John Ireland was thus sent to France for his seminary studies just a few miles away from St. John Vianney's parish of Ars.

Our close ties to St. John Vianney should keep the ideal of priestly holiness ever before our eyes. Your priests are very human... and yet God can work miracles through these broken instruments. Pray that your priests will always see their lives as a participation in the ministry of the Good Shepard and be willing to sacrifice themselves in service to the Church. Pray that your priests will always strive to proclaim the full truth of the Gospel and not just the parts that won't offend our society or even their own parishioners. Pray that many young men in our Archdiocese [and across the world- my emphasis] will listen to God's call and respond generously with an unreserved "fiat!" And be sure to read about the great saint and pray to him as a special companion on our journey of faith!"

St. John Vianney is an inspiration for us all. I'm so fortunate to have participated in the Sacraments at the Cathedral of St. Paul, despite the Great-Thanks hotel broken glasses incident. A special thanks to all of the priests that I've encountered in my life... from baptism and confirmation on up to the present day. I especially want to recognize Fr. Rob Kroll (SJ) for all the work that he does in his ministry. I'm praying for you this year!


St. John Vianney Photo Credit: DCF Delacruz

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