BY Martin Dunlop | July 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Shrewsbury bishop urges priests to take heart

Bishop Mark Davies (above left) will encourage clergy tonight to pray for fresh heart in the priesthood during the four-day English tour of the relic of the heart of St John Vianney (above right).

On the first evening of the four-day English tour of the relic of St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, the Bishop of Shrewsbury will urge the clergy and the Faithful gathered to seize the opportunity pray for fresh heart in the priesthood.

The relic of the heart of St John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, arrived at Manchester Airport this afternoon for its first-ever visit to the UK and was taken to Wythenshaw.

At tonight’s Mass in St Anthony’s Church, Wythenshawe, concelebrated by jubilarian priests in the presence of the relic, Bishop Mark Davies will encourage priests, deacons and the congregation to a renewed recognition of ‘the irreplaceable gift of Holy Orders and especially the ordained priesthood.’

The bishop will echo the words of Blessed John Paul II in asking whether ‘we are doing all that is possible to awaken in the Christian people the beauty and necessity of the priesthood, to awaken new vocations, to encourage them and bring them to maturity.’

He will also acknowledge the failures and challenges facing many priests in recent times before concluding that this must always lead us back to what lies at the heart of the Catholic priesthood.

“No other recognition can renew the heart of the ministerial priesthood except to discover and re-discover in St John Mary Vianney’s striking words… the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus,” Bishop Davies will say this evening.

Bishop Davies will also advise priests gathered to heed the words of successive modern Popes, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and to look at the ‘matchless example’ of St John Vianney.

The relic will be venerated tomorrow at a National Day of Prayer for the renewal of parish life and for vocations in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, before it is taken to St Michael’s and All Angels Church, Woodchurch, Wirral for compline later in the day.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, who is this year celebrating the golden jubilee of his own ordination to the priesthood, will be among the preachers at the cathedral.

On Saturday, the relic will be venerated at St Wilfrid’s Church, Northwich, Cheshire, before it will be taken to Shrewsbury Cathedral. Later in the day, the relic will be taken to the Invocations Annual National Vocations Conference in Birmingham.

The vocations event, which this year will focus in a particular way on the priesthood and its role in the life of the Church, will be held at St Mary’s College, Oscott, Birmingham, from July 6-8. The relic will be present at the festival from Saturday evening when Bishop Davies addresses participants. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham are expected to preach at the event on Sunday.

The relic, which has been brought to England at the invitation of Bishop Davies, will be accompanied throughout the visit by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France, along with two priests of the Ars Diocese. It will return to France on Monday July 9.

John Vianney was a farmer’s son, born in 1786 near Lyon, France. He was conscripted into Napoleon’s army but deserted before the invasion of Spain and was later accepted into the priesthood two months after the Battle of Waterloo.

Though he struggled with Latin and other academic studies his virtue and austerity proved an inspiration to others and he would spend up to 16 hours a day taking confession from those who visited him.

In the last year of his life the 73-year-old priest was visited by 100,000 pilgrims. He was Canonised in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

Speaking last month, Bishop Davies extended an invitation for Catholics throughout the country to venerate the relic of the heart of St John Vianney and pray for vocations.



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