Wednesday 4 August 2021 is a special day for both shepherds and the flock – the feast of the holy Curé of Ars St John Mary Vianney! His feast brings much hope to the whole church and particularly to the ministerial priesthood.
John was born on May 8, 1786, in Dardilly, in the outskirts of Lyon in France. He came from a humble origin, his family, farmers. Hampered by his lack of scholarly aptitude, it seemed that it was almost impossible for him to be ordained a priest. However, God was on his side. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in his catechesis on the holy Curé of Ars, on Wednesday 5 August 2009, with the help of far-sighted priests who did not stop at considering his human limitations but looked beyond them and glimpsed the horizon of holiness that shone out in that truly unusual young man, he managed to overcome the misunderstandings and ordeals that presented themselves to him on the way, and finally was ordained a priest on 23 June 1815, at the age of 29.
His superiors sent him to Ars, a remote Catholic community in 1818 to serve as parish priest. When he arrived there Vianney did not lose time, but swiftly started to pray and work for the conversion of his parishioners. The more he became conscious of his setbacks, the more he opened himself to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit which, in turn, not only changed him but also won over the people he lovingly accompanied.