POPE BENEDICT XVI DECLARES 2009-2010 YEAR OF THE PRIESTPope Benedict XVI declared
a year of the priest in an effort to encourage "spiritual perfection" in priests.
The pope opened the special year
at the Vatican June 19 -- the feast of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus and the day for the sanctification of priests. He will close the celebrations during a World Meeting
of Priests in St. Peter's Square June 19, 2010.
During this jubilee year, the pope will also proclaim St. John Mary Vianney to
be patron saint of all the world's priests. At present he is
considered the patron saint of parish priests.
St. John Vianney is
widely known to Catholics as the Cure (parish priest) of Ars who won over the hearts of his villagers in France by visiting
with them, teaching them about God and reconciling people to the Lord in the confessional. This year marks the 150th anniversary
of the death of this 19th-century saint who represents a "true example of a priest at the service of the flock of Christ”.
On August 4, the Church celebrated the feast day
of St. John Vianney, patron of priests. This day marked the 150th anniversary of the saint’s death and comes during
the newly-begun Year for Priests.
John Vianney, also known as the Holy Curé de Ars,
was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, near Lyon, France to
a family of farmers. He was ordained a priest in 1815 and became curate in Ecully. He was then sent to the remote French community
of Ars in 1818 to be a parish priest.
Upon his arrival, the priest immediately began
praying and working for the conversion of his parishioners. Although he saw himself as unworthy of his mission as pastor,
he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served the people.
Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and
the witness of his lifestyle. He gave powerful homilies on the mercy and love of God, and it is said that even staunch sinners
were converted upon hearing him. In addition, he restored his church, formed an orphanage, “La Providence,” and
cared for the poor.
His reputation as a confessor grew rapidly, and
pilgrims traveled from all over France to come to him in the Sacrament
of Reconciliation. Firmly committed to the conversion of the people, he would spend up to 16 hours a day
in the confessional.
Plagued by many trials and besieged by the devil,
the St. John Vianney remained firm in his faith, and lived a life of devotion to God. Dedicated to theBlessed Sacrament, he spent much time in prayer and practiced much mortification. He lived on little food
and sleep, while working without rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience and cheerfulness, until he was well into
John Vianney died on August 4, 1859. Over 1,000 people attended
his funeral, including the bishop and priests of the diocese, who already viewed his life as a model of priestly holiness.
The Holy Curé of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is the patron of priests. Over 450,000 pilgrims
travel to Ars every year in remembrance of his holy life.
the 150th anniversary of St. John Vianney’s death, this year has been declared the Year for Priests by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope inaugurated the Year for Priests on
June 19, and wrote a Letter to Clergy, encouraging all priests to look to the Curé of Ars as an example of dedication to one’s