St. John Marie Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests popularly known as the Cure’ d’Ars, was a humble man who spent over 10 hours a day in the confessional. In the course of his ministry, the once religiously indifferent small french town of Ars, many of whom were fallen away Catholics, turned into a vibrant community. In fact, people from neighboring parishes and different regions of the country flocked to him to seek healing and reconciliation. In as much as I hanker and wish to imitate his pastoral zeal, I can’t do it out of my pseudo-busy schedule. With the current American parish setting, even an enthusiastic and energetic Priest assigned in a little town in Arizona, almost singlehandedly carrying out the tough job of parish administration, would find it hard to spend even 5 hours hearing confessions unless, Coolidge repents. Ministering in St. James, a non-profit organization in the eyes of the State, is incredibly challenging. It’s obviously more than just the Sacraments. It includes management, administration, fund raising, inter-personal skills, among others, on top of prophecy and …time- off, to be precise. Sad that the sacrament of mercy and forgiveness is offered only an hour each week with no more than ten souls showing up. I can do something about it, though. His example remains an inspiration and reminder that the primum officium of a Priest is to preach and sanctify his people. Social Action is secondary.
Just like him, I was a very poor student, too. In fact, the most stupid in the class and failed to pass in many of the Seminary courses offered especially Ad Auds (on hearing confessions), a practicum in preparation for hearing confessions. I admit in ages past that my ordination to the Priesthood is a sign that God, indeed, exists. Again, my ministry is a concrete testimony that if I made it out of the mercy and kindness of God and Formators, anybody can.
St. John Marie Vianney, Pray for us! Amen.