Faithful With Love Celebrate ‘Priests Day’ to Mark Feast of St John Vianney at Athma Jyothi Ashram

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Catholic Faithful With Love Celebrate ‘Priests Day’ or ‘Pastor’s Day’ to Mark Feast of St John Vianney-the Patron of Priests, at Athma Jyothi Ashram, Souza Lane, Kadri, Mangaluru on Wednesday, 4 August 2021 at 7 am

Mangaluru: We celebrate all kinds of Days to commemorate an occasion or a life of a person, like Mothers’ Day, Grandparents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Friendship Day, or a Father’s Day- but today, 4 August Catholic faithful celebrated yet another “Religious Fathers Day” to mark the Feast of St John Vianney-the Patron of Priests. Although there wasn’t much of a celebration at other Catholic Churches, other than prayers and Mass, but at Athma Jyothi Ashram- a Counselling and Healing Centre run by Capuchin Fathers, located on Souza lane, Kadri, Mangaluru, the faithful joined in celebrating in a simple manner due to the Pandemic restrictions, but in a true spirit and love towards the two Capuchin Priests, Fr Cyprian D’souza and Fr Dolphy Serrao, who are at the helm of Ashram.

Yes, the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus, no doubt about it. And these two Capuchin priests at Athma Jyothi Ashram have kept a close relationship with the devotees who come to pray or for the mass or people who come for counselling, that they always remember and appreciate their dedicated religious services and their friendliness. Even though this is a Small Ashram, there has always been Big Sambramas, either on Christmas Day, Nativity of BVM, Independence Day, Easter Day, etc. And today was yet another day of celebration planned by the daily devotees, in respect of their two beloved Capuchin Priests- Fr Cyprian and Fr Dolphy.

Following the mass, it was time to cut the cake, which was done by Fr Cyprian and Fr Dolphy and being a next-door neighbour, I had the privilege to join in this simple Sambram, which ended with a sumptuous breakfast, and also singing of a melodious song to mark the Day.

L-R: Fr Cyprian D’souza and Fr Dolphy Serrao

To know more about PRIESTS DAY and the FEAST OF ST JOHN VIANNEY- the patron of Priests-August 4, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St John Vianney-the patron of priests. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was born on May 8, 1786, in Dardilly, South-East France. He was the fourth of six children born to Matthieu Vianney and Marie, who were pious Christians. At the time of his birth, the French Revolution (1787–1799) was in progress and Catholics and priests were persecuted and had to worship in secret. In this turmoil, Vianney received hardly any elementary education. He was forced to receive his first Holy Communion and confession secretly. Impressed by the heroism of the nuns and priests who risked their lives for their faith during the revolution, he felt a call to pursue the priesthood. He was very weak in Latin and so had to seek private tuition to supplement his inadequate schooling. His studies were interrupted by his induction into Napoleon’s army in 1809.

He returned to Écully and resumed his ecclesiastic studies. He attended a minor seminary, Abbe Balley, in 1812. Vianney was so weak academically, struggling with Latin, that he was almost dismissed from the seminary until an official from his diocese interceded. He was ordained a deacon in June 1815 and a priest on August 12, 1815, in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble. His first Mass was celebrated the next day and he was appointed assistant to Balley in Écully. In 1818, he was sent to the remote French village of Ars, a small village farming community of about 260 people. Following the anti-Catholic upheaval of the French Revolution, many in the community lacked faith. Upon his arrival, Fr Vianney immediately began praying and working for the conversion of his parishioners. Although he saw himself as unworthy of his mission as a pastor, he allowed himself to be consumed by the love of God as he served the people.

Fr Vianney slowly helped to revive the community’s faith through both his prayers and the witness of his lifestyle. He gave powerful homilies on the mercy and love of God, and it is said that even staunch sinners were converted upon hearing him. In addition, he formed an orphanage, “La Providence,” and cared for the poor. Even though he was not blessed with an abundance of talents, his pastoral ministry as a leader and reformer was extraordinary. Fr Vianney’s most important accomplishment was his work as a confessor. In the winter months, he spent 11 to 12 hours and during the summer, 16 hours daily reconciling people with God. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this day after day. He was also known for his devotion to the Virgin Mary and Saint Philomena. Fr Vianney gave the credit for miracles that were performed during his tenure at Ars to St. Philomena.

Over the years, he made Ars a model parish, from which reports of his holiness and his supernatural powers soon spread. Men of all ranks and conditions of life sought his guidance and advice. By 1827, Ars had become a pilgrimage site, and, every year from 1845 until his death, about 20,000 people visited Ars to see Fr Vianney and especially to make their confession to him.

As his fame spread, more hours were dedicated to serving the people. Even the few hours that he would allow himself to sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil. In 1824, he suffered attacks that he believed were caused by the Devil, who allegedly, on one occasion, set fire to Fr Vianney’s bed. Plagued by many trials and besieged by the devil, Fr Vianney remained firm in his faith and lived a life of devotion to God. He spent much time in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He lived on little food and sleep while working without rest in unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness until he was well into his 70s.

After shepherding his flock for decades, he died on August 4, 1859. Over 1,000 people attended his funeral, including the bishop and priests of the diocese, who already viewed his life as a model of priestly holiness. Fr Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 31, 1925, and named the patron of pastors in 1929. The incorrupt body of Saint Vianney is entombed above the main altar in the Basilica of Ars. Lakhs of pilgrims travel to Ars every year in remembrance of his holy life. Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the 150th anniversary of his death and declared 2009 as the Year for Priests. The Pope also encouraged all priests to look at Saint Vianney as an example of dedication to one’s priestly vocation. August 4 is commemorated as Pastors Day/Priests Day!.

Here is a small prayer to seek the blessings of the Lord through the intercession of Saint Vianney-

“Almighty and merciful God, who made the Priest Saint John Vianney wonderful in his pastoral zeal, grant us, we pray, that through his intercession and example we may in charity win brothers and sisters for Christ and attain with them eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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