By Tim Harfmann
The incorrupt heart of a priest, Saint John Vianney, was on display for all to see. Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests. “It’s a grace that encourages us to continue, to listen to God’s word in our heart and do His will,” said Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, who celebrated Mass at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Elmhurst, Queens on April 9th. The school is where teenagers consider the possibility of becoming priests. “They’re pondering the question, ‘what is God asking me to do with my life?’ John Vianney asked that question and look at the great things He was able to do with him. God was able to take him and make him an icon of His love. That’s what we do here at Cathedral,” said Father Joseph Fonti, rector-president.
For students, being in a presence of the relic is a wonderful experience. “Seeing the relic here probably inspires a lot of us to consider the priesthood and learn more about our faith,” said Peter Cardenas, a Cathedral Prep freshman.
The 19th-century priest was born in France. Vianney was known for reading hearts and being a great confessor, often spending up to 18 hours a day in the confessional. The sacred relic is on a U.S. pilgrimage sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. “What better relic to bring around, especially at this time in the history of the Church, than to allow the priests to be able to speak heart to heart, and for the lay people to come and pray for their priests,” said Brian Chufield. He is one of the men who travels with Vianney’s heart.
The veneration was open to the public. Students from Incarnation Catholic Academy traveled from Queens Village. Other Catholics were also there to touch and pray before the icon. “I have had a great devotion to Saint Jean Vianney for many years. I’m overwhelmed to be here with his heart,” said Charles Scally. The 78-year-old and his wife, Barbara, traveled from Philadelphia.
It was an overwhelming response that St. Vianney will provide an increase in vocations and a renewal of the Church.
Worshippers have the chance to venerate the Vianney relic on April 10th. The ‘Heart of a Priest’ will be at Xaverian High School, Bay Ridge from 2:30pm-3:30pm and Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, Flatlands from 7pm-9:30pm.