Relic heart of St. John Vianney to visit diocese

By Megan Marley

When’s the last time you’ve been to Confession? A week? A couple months? Several years?

If you haven’t been in a while, the Church welcomes you to rediscover the beauty and healing of the sacrament this Lent. First, through an interactive Google map on the diocesan website listing confessions available for every day (and almost every hour) of the week. Second, by hosting the relic heart of the patron saint of confessors.

The first-class relic heart of St. John Vianney, ‘the Curé of Ars’, is making a stop on its U.S. tour at the Cathedral in St. Joseph, Mo. on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. The day will feature 8 a.m. Mass followed by veneration of the relic until 8 p.m., 5:30 p.m. Vespers, and confessions heard from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Fr. Steven Hansen, pastor of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, shared some highlights of the saint’s life.

“The definitive book about John Vianney is called ‘The Cure D’Ars’ by Abbé François Trochu—it’s amazing,” Hansen said. “In that book, which I’ve read, there are many stories of how the Devil would tempt him to give up, how he would be tempted to be discouragement, but he lived a great life of penance for his parishioners.”

A French country boy of the late 17th century, John Vianney was an unlikely candidate for the priesthood, let alone becoming patron saint of parish priests and confessors. The French Revolution and resulting necessity of the Church going ‘underground’ made getting a good education difficult. But at age 20 he left the family farm to study for the priesthood in earnest.

“It wasn’t easy for him to become a priest—his Latin was terrible,” explained Hansen.

Even so, Vianney conquered the books and was ordained August 12, 1815. His first parish was in the small village of Ars, and there he saw many of the people were either ignorant or indifferent to the Faith as a result of the Revolution. He went straight to work.

“He began visiting prisoners, and being in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and doing penance for his parishioners. He spent many hours in the confessional, as many as 18 hours a day! And he worked with some sisters and opened up an orphanage for girls,” Hansen listed.

Vianney was most known for his work as a confessor.

“He was ordained in 1815; by 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims going to Ars to go to confession to him!” said Hansen. Thousands still flock to Ars today to venerate his incorrupt body.

Hansen is excited the relic is coming to the Cathedral of St. Joseph from Ars, for personal reasons.

“I was there last summer with seminarians on the Rome Experience, and it happened to be the 12th anniversary of my ordination—June 3—and I was the main celebrant on the altar where John Vianney is buried. His incorrupt body is right there in front of you; in front of me and the priests and the seminarians,” he said.

“After that they said to me, you have to go pray in front of his heart—there’s a special chapel where his incorrupt heart is kept, a separate building. And I went to the building and it said ‘OUT ON TOUR’. So I told the bishop that it’s coming on tour to us, and to me personally, you know!”

The relic’s tour of the United States is organized by the Knights of Columbus through its Supreme Council and state and local groups.

“We’re real excited that it’s coming, and I think we’re going to see more of this stuff in the future, which is good,” said Chris Bradfield, diocesan chairman on the Knights of Columbus Missouri state council.

As one of the largest organizations within the Church, the knights are trying to ensure that their Faith remains obvious in addition to all their charitable work.

“Everybody knows we do the tootsie rolls and the fundraisers, but there’s also a religious aspect to what we do. I’m glad that the Knights at the Supreme level are able to do something like this,” Bradfield said. “Keep in mind we’re all volunteers, we all have 8-5 jobs, work 50-60 hours a week and still do the things that we do.”

For more information, visit the Cathedral’s website cathedralsj.org, or the Holy Year of Renewal page at kcsjcatholic.org/our-vision/holy-year. For a map of 2019 Lenten confession times, visit kcsjcatholic.org/reconciliation.

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  1. March 28, 2019 at 11:49 am #

    This was an incredible experience. Many thanks to the Knights for this and for all they do!

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Thursday
May 23, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph