The relic of St. John Vianney’s incorrupt heart visited the Diocese of Brooklyn April 9-10, making stops at Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary, Elmhurst; Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston; Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge;, and St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands, where Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated Mass to conclude the relic’s pilgrimage.
The relics visiting 48 states, are sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop DiMarzio were Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Chappetto, James Massa, Guy Sansaricq, as well as Msgr. Joseph Grimaldi episcopal vicar for Brooklyn, Father Michael Gelfant a K. of C. chaplain, and St. Thomas Aquinas, pastor, Father Dwayne Davis. Over a dozen other priests and a packed church came to show their love to a beloved saint, the patron of parish priests.
“St. John Vianney was a man of great holiness and that is why God gave him that grace of an incorruptible body and heart which still can go around the world to inspire people,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “This is a time when we need priestly holiness to bring the Church back to where it needs to be.
“We gather here today with my brother priests and before Mass we enjoyed dinner together and celebrated the work and sacrifice they all make. We are inspired by this great saint and hope that we can in some way continue his work. The diocese is blessed to have his heart here with us and looking out for us.”
The relic usually is kept in Ars, France, where St. John Vianney lived and was known to spend hours on end in the confessional. “You go to the simple life of St. John Vianney and he reminds us that his heroic virtue was not in the budgets and the fixing of the buildings but it was in the taking care of the souls of his people,” explained Father Gelfant.
Father Davis took pride in hosting the relic and the Mass that concluded the diocesan tour.
“It is a great honor to have this celebration here at St. Thomas Aquinas,” he said. “St. John Vianney was a priest for all priests, a priestly man with a great zeal for the love of God’s people. To be here with the bishops and to have so many priests come and support us is truly such a blessing. We see how much love there is. St. John Vianney still is able to give us so much inspiration.”