“Heart of a Priest, Heart of a Pastor” | Postcards from Rome 2018

June 4, 2018
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We arrived in Ars, France at about 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday after an adventure-filled journey that included a surprise flight cancellation and unexpected overnight stay in Madrid, Spain. We made the best of a tough situation by celebrating Mass in Madrid on Monday in a beautiful basilica dedicated to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, enjoying some tapas for lunch, and visiting the Prado Art Museum! The museum was incredible and includes works by Raphael including his “Madonna with the Fish” and by Rubens including his “The Adoration of the Magi”. We finished our rescheduled journey and are now enjoying the peace and solitude of the Saint John Paul II Retreat Center and the village of Ars.

Today I visited the parish church where the Curé d’Ars, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, patron saint of priests, lived his priesthood for many years. As I knelt and prayed in front of his incorrupt body, I reflected on St. Vianney and his great devotion to the parish and people of Ars, as evidenced by his many sacrifices. He often fasted for days at a time and would spend long nights in the church praying for the people of his parish. I prayed that I might be able to live my priestly identity in the same spirit of self-sacrifice when, God-willing, I am ordained in three years. I also prayed for my bishop and all the priests in my home diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts. Here is what I prayed…

Dear Saint John Vianney, patron saint of all diocesan priests, please give me, and all the priests of my diocese, your heart. The heart of a priest and the heart of a pastor. A heart filled with love for all of God’s people and a heart filled with zeal to save souls. Fill our hearts with courage, to always speak the truth in love. May our hearts always be a reflection of God’s mercy and forgiveness as we bring the sacraments of healing, especially confession, to all of God’s people. All of this I pray through your intercession and that of St. Philomena, to whom you had such a great devotion, in the name of our Blessed Mother, Mary. Amen.

I also placed my hand on the confessional where he spent upwards of 16 hours a day bringing God’s mercy and love to people and prayed that someday I might be able to do the same.

Please pray for all of the seminarians who are here on retreat that, through the intercession of Saint John Vianney and our Blessed Mother, Mary, we might gain a stronger understanding of our identities as sons of the Father and as future priests of Jesus Christ.

John Larochelle
The Rome Experience Class of 2018
Diocese of Worcester
St. John’s Seminary