Through St. John Vianney’s intercession, pray for priests

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | August 13, 2015
Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

One of the blessings of my time here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is working across the street from the Cathedral of St. Paul. Dominating the view from my office window, it beckons to me daily and serves as a real testament not only to the genius of [architect Emmanuel Louis] Masqueray and the vision of Archbishop John Ireland, but also to the vitality and resilience of this archdiocese.

In the midst of the magnificence of the Cathedral, one feature catches my eye most often: the St. John Vianney window. It is unassuming and hidden in the shadows, somehow appropriate for the humble Curé of Ars, whose service as a simple parish priest has inspired the faithful for more than 150 years.

He is an appealing role model to so many of us because he was so human. He struggled with his schoolwork, would certainly have never appeared on the cover of GQ, and related awkwardly to his peers. In fact, Bishop Matthias Loras, whose territory as bishop of Dubuque included St. Paul, has the unfortunate distinction of being remembered as Vianney’s intellectually superior classmate who once found him so annoyingly obtuse that he “boxed his ears.”

In spite of St. John Vianney’s weaknesses, few would dispute that he had an impact that extended far beyond his parish in Ars, France. It’s no surprise that he was designated the patron saint of parish priests or that the archdiocese would have named its college seminary after him.

It was on his feast day this year, Aug. 4, that the archdiocese had the first opportunity to wade through the more than 400 claims of clergy abuse that had been filed in Bankruptcy Court before the close of business on Aug. 3. While the claims are spread over a period of more than 75 years and involve only a fraction of the priests who have served here in that time period, they nonetheless are a painful reminder of the potential harm that can be caused by priests when we lose our focus on Christ, when we fall away from the habit of prayer, and when we abuse our positions of trust.

I found myself once again gazing at the Curé’s window, praying for the claimants as well as for the priests who are accused of harming them, and pleading for his intercession in bringing healing and peace into their lives.

I remembered as well the many priests of this archdiocese who have served —and continue to serve — so selflessly and tirelessly as instruments of God’s grace, from the retired priests at the Byrne Residence (on the seminary campus) to the younger priests, full of potential and enthusiasm, I encountered at Latino Family Day. Even at this difficult point in history, they collectively radiate the joy of the Gospel and are a source of real hope and inspiration to me and so many others.

Given their potential impact on the life of this local Church, please join me in praying for our priests, and our future priests, that they, in imitation of St. John Vianney, might always persevere in their commitments, grow in holiness and lead us to deeper encounters with the love and mercy of Christ.

A través de la intercesión de San Juan Vianney, oren por los sacerdotes

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Category: Only Jesus

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