By Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald
Hundreds of Catholic faithful venerated first-class relic of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, during the weekend of Dec. 1-2 at St. Rita Church in New Orleans. A relic is a physical object associated with someone who has been declared a saint. The object is not worshipped but venerated as a sign of the person’s holiness.
The heart of the humble, 19th-century parish priest from Ars, France, is being taken by the Knights of Columbus on a nationwide tour through the summer of 2019. Father Kurt Young, vocation director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said in his homily during the welcoming Mass on Saturday that St. John Vianney was an inspirational model for the priesthood. Father Young said all Catholics could learn from St. John Vianney’s humble example to put on the heart of Christ.
“Throughout my past six-plus years as a priest, I have prayed the words of the prophet Ezekiel numerous times: ‘Lord, take away my heart of stone and grant me a heart of flesh, conformed to yours.’ I just never imagined that the Lord would send me a new heart in a golden container!” Father Young said St. John Vianney lived an austere life, beginning his day at 1 a.m. with confessions for five hours, and then celebrated Mass. After prayers, catechetical teaching and lunch, “he would rush out to visit the sick and return to the church in the early afternoon to continue hearing confessions until 8 p.m. … Do we give ourselves service to others this unselfishly?”