By Tim Harfmann
The incorrupt heart of the patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, was on display for all to see at Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Elmhurst, April 9.
“It’s a grace that encourages us to continue, to listen to God’s word in our heart and do His will,” said Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez, who celebrated Mass at the Elmhurst high school and seminary.
Icon of His Love
Father Joseph Fonti, rector and president, said his school is where young men have the opportuinty to consider the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood.
“They’re pondering the question, ‘What is God asking me to do with my life?’ John Vianney asked that question and look at the great things He was able to do with him,” said Father Fonti. “God was able to take him and make him an icon of His love. That’s what we do here at Cathedral.”
For some students, being in the presence of a saint’s relic is a thought-provoking and enlightening experience.
“Seeing the relic here probably inspires a lot of us to consider the priesthood and learn more about our faith,” said freshman Peter Cardenas.
The 19th-century priest was born in France. St. John Vianney was known for reading hearts and being a great confessor, often spending up to 18 hours a day in the confessional.
The sacred relic is on a U.S. pilgrimage sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. One of the men who travels with St.Vianney’s heart is Brian Chufield.
“What better relic to bring around, especially at this time in the history of the Church, than to allow the priests to be able to speak heart to heart, and for the lay people to come and pray for their priests,” said Chufield.
The veneration was also open to the public and visitors came from throughout the diocese, like students from Incarnation Catholic Academy in Queens Village. The visiting relic also attracted visitors from outside New York like 78-year-old Charles Scally and his wife Barbara from Philadelphia. “I have had a great devotion to St. John Vianney for many years,” said Scally. “I’m overwhelmed to be here with his heart.”
Worshipers also had the chance to venerate the relic April 10. The ‘Heart of a Priest’ was at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge and St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Flatlands.
It was an overwhelming response among the faithful that St. Vianney will provide an increase in vocations and a renewal of the Church.