Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vatican declares Kerala priest as 'Servant of God'

The Catholic church on Tuesday declared Father Antony Thachuparambil, popularly known as 'Missionary of Chelakkara', as 'Servant of God'.

The declaration was made by Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath at St Mary's Forane Church in Chelakkara near Thrissur on Tuesday morning.

Father Francis Aloor, spokesman for the Archdiocese, said the Pope's 'bull' (document from Vatican) was read out by the Senior Vicar General Father Raphael Thattil during a high con-celebrated mass led by Thazhath, Archbishop Emeritus, Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy amid a large gathering of faithful and laymen.

Declaration of a faithful as 'Servant of God' is the first step for canonisation under the Roman Catholic Church.

Other steps towards the sainthood, are declarations of Venerable, Blessed and Canonisation, Aloor said.

Following order of 'No-objection' in this regard, the work of the Tribunal for the canonisation of Thachuparambil would be initiated by the Postulator Father Paul Pulicken, he said.

Born in 1894 at Chalakudy, Thachuparambil had served about three decades since 1930 in Chelakkara, an extremely backward forest area.

He had made immense contribution for the overall development of Chelakkara, serving all sections of the society irrespective of caste, creed, colour and religion.

Thachuparambil has established a school, Balabhavan for orphans and a church in the 1930s. He died on June 9, 1963.

U.S. bishops launch website for Year for Priests

.- The U.S. bishops’ conference has set up a website to help mark the Year for Priests by providing prayers and other resources.

Pope Benedict XVI designated the Year to begin on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 19. His announcement also designated St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, as the Universal Patron of All Priests. According to a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has set up a website in service of the year’s theme.

“Please pray for our priests that they might always be faithful to their sacred calling,” the site says.

The site includes Pope Benedict’s message for the Year of Priests and the announcement of the celebration’s plenary indulgence in English and Spanish. It also provides prayers for both priests and laity in PDF format so that they may be downloaded and printed for diocesan and parochial use.

The Secretariat plans to provide monthly articles by prominent Catholic women who will write about their “faith and trust” in the priesthood.

Other activities for the Year of Priests include a gathering of priests in Rome as well as a retreat on the national level. Information on the retreat will also be provided through the website, which is located at http://www.usccb.org/yearforpriests/index.shtml

Curé of Ars, born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786; died at Ars, 4 August, 1859; son of Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze.

In 1806, the curé at Ecully, M. Balley, opened a school for ecclesiastical students, and Jean-Marie was sent to him. Though he was of average intelligence and his masters never seem to have doubted his vocation, his knowledge was extremely limited, being confined to a little arithmetic, history, and geography, and he found learning, especially the study of Latin, excessively difficult. One of his fellow-students, Matthias Loras, afterwards first Bishop of Dubuque, assisted him with his Latin lessons.

But now another obstacle presented itself. Young Vianney was drawn in the conscription, the war with Spain and the urgent need of recruits having caused Napoleon to withdraw the exemption enjoyed by the ecclesiastical students in the diocese of his uncle, Cardinal Fesch. Matthieu Vianney tried unsuccessfully to procure a substitute, so his son was obliged to go. His regiment soon received marching orders. The morning of departure, Jean-Baptiste went to church to pray, and on his return to the barracks found that his comrades had already left. He was threatened with arrest, but the recruiting captainbelieved his story and sent him after the troops. At nightfall he met a young man who volunteered to guide him to his fellow-soldiers, but led him to Noes, where somedeserters had gathered. The mayor persuaded him to remain there, under an assumed name, as schoolmaster. After fourteen months, he was able to communicate with his family. His father was vexed to know that he was a deserter and ordered him to surrender but the matter was settled by his younger brother offering to serve in his stead and being accepted.

Jean-Baptiste now resumed his studies at Ecully. In 1812, he was sent to the seminary at Verrieres; he was so deficient in Latin as to be obliged to follow the philosophy course in French. He failed to pass the examinations for entrance to the seminary proper, but on re-examination three months later succeeded. On 13 August, 1815, he was ordained priest by Mgr. Simon, Bishop of Grenoble. His difficulties in making the preparatory studies seem to have been due to a lack of mental suppleness in dealing with theory as distinct from practice -- a lack accounted for by the meagreness of his early schooling, the advanced age at which he began to study, the fact that he was not of more than averageintelligence, and that he was far advanced in spiritual science and in the practice of virtue long before he came to study it in the abstract. He was sent to Ecully as assistant to M. Balley, who had first recognized and encouraged his vocation, who urged him to persevere when the obstacles in his way seemed insurmountable, who interceded with the examiners when he failed to pass for the higher seminary, and who was his model as well as his preceptor and patron. In 1818, after the death of M. Balley, M. Vianney was made parish priest of Ars, a village not very far from Lyons. It was in the exercise of the functions of the parish priest in this remote French hamlet that as the "curé d'Ars" he became known throughout France and the Christian world. A few years after he went to Ars, he founded a sort of orphanage for destitute girls. It was called "The Providence" and was the model of similar institutions established later all over France. M. Vianney himself instructed the children of "The Providence" in the catechism, and these catechetical instructions came to be so popular that at last they were given every day in the church to large crowds. "The Providence" was the favourite work of the "curé d'Ars", but, although it was successful, it was closed in 1847, because the holy curé thought that he was not justified in maintaining it in the face of the opposition of many good people. Its closing was a very heavy trial to him.

But the chief labour of the Curé d'Ars was the direction of souls. He had not been long at Ars when people began coming to him from other parishes, then from distant places, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. As early as 1835, his bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of "the souls awaiting him yonder". During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. The most distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy curé and hearing his daily instruction. The Venerable Father Colin was ordained deacon at the same time, and was his life-long friend, while Mother Marie de la Providence founded the Helpers of the Holy Souls on his advice and with his constant encouragement. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. His instructions were simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes, but breathing faith and that love of God which was his life principle and which he infused into his audience as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible.

The miracles recorded by his biographers are of three classes:

* first, the obtaining of money for his charities and food for his orphans;
* secondly, supernatural knowledge of the past and future;
* thirdly, healing the sick, especially children.

The greatest miracle of all was his life. He practised mortification from his early youth. and for forty years his food and sleep were insufficient, humanly speaking, to sustain life. And yet he laboured incessantly, with unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness, until he was more than seventy-three years old.

On 3 October, 1874 Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was proclaimed Venerable by Pius IX and on 8 January, 1905, he was enrolled among the Blessed. Pope Pius X proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy.


VATICAN CITY, 9 JUN 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. on Friday 19 June, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Benedict XVI will preside at Second Vespers to mark the opening of the Year for Priests, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney “Cure of Ars”.


Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.

With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.

On this website you will find a number of resources to aid your parish’s celebration of the year for priests. There is also information regarding events for priests that will occur throughout the Year for Priests.

Please pray for our priests that they might always be faithful to their sacred calling.

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI

Announcing the Year for Priests

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

I am glad to be able to welcome you at a special Audience on the eve of my departure for Africa, where I am going to present the Instrumentum Laboris of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod for Africa that will be held here in Rome next October. I thank Cardinal Cláudio Hummes for the kind words with which he has interpreted the sentiments you share and I thank you for the beautiful letter you wrote to me. With him, I greet you all, Superiors, Officials and Members of the Congregation, with gratitude for all the work you do at the service of such an important sector of the Church's life.

The theme you have chosen for this Plenary Assembly "The missionary identity of the priest in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the tria munera" suggests some reflections on the work of these days and the abundant fruit that it will certainly yield. If the whole Church is missionary and if every Christian, by virtue of Baptism and Confirmation quasi ex officio (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1305), receives the mandate to profess the faith publicly, the ministerial priesthood, also from this viewpoint, is ontologically distinct, and not only by rank, from the baptismal priesthood that is also known as the "common priesthood". In fact, the apostolic mandate "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation" (Mk 16: 15) is constitutive of the ministerial priesthood. This mandate is not, as we know, a mere duty entrusted to collaborators; its roots are deeper and must be sought further back in time.

The missionary dimension of the priesthood is born from the priest's sacramental configuration to Christ. As a consequence it brings with it a heartfelt and total adherence to what the ecclesial tradition has identified as apostolica vivendi forma. This consists in participation in a "new life", spiritually speaking, in that "new way of life" which the Lord Jesus inaugurated and which the Apostles made their own. Through the imposition of the Bishop's hands and the consecratory prayer of the Church, the candidates become new men, they become "presbyters". In this light it is clear that the tria munera are first a gift and only consequently an office, first a participation in a life, and hence a potestas. Of course, the great ecclesial tradition has rightly separated sacramental efficacy from the concrete existential situation of the individual priest and so the legitimate expectations of the faithful are appropriately safeguarded. However, this correct doctrinal explanation takes nothing from the necessary, indeed indispensable, aspiration to moral perfection that must dwell in every authentically priestly heart.

Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special "Year for Priests" that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010. In fact, it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars, John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock. It will be the task of your Congregation, in agreement with the diocesan Ordinaries and with the superiors of religious institutes to promote and to coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that seem useful for making the importance of the priest's role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived.

The priest's mission, as the theme of the Plenary Assembly emphasizes, is carried out "in the Church". This ecclesial communal, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable to every authentic mission and, alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness. The four aspects mentioned must always be recognized as intimately connected: the mission is "ecclesial" because no one proclaims himself in the first person, but within and through his own humanity every priest must be well aware that he is bringing to the world Another, God himself. God is the only treasure which ultimately people desire to find in a priest. The mission is "communional" because it is carried out in a unity and communion that only secondly has also important aspects of social visibility. Moreover, these derive essentially from that divine intimacy in which the priest is called to be expert, so that he may be able to lead the souls entrusted to him humbly and trustingly to the same encounter with the Lord. Lastly, the "hierarchical" and "doctrinal" dimensions suggest reaffirming the importance of the ecclesiastical discipline (the term has a connection with "disciple") and doctrinal training and not only theological, initial and continuing formation.

Awareness of the radical social changes that have occurred in recent decades must motivate the best ecclesial forces to supervise the formation of candidates for the ministry. In particular, it must foster the constant concern of Pastors for their principal collaborators, both by cultivating truly fatherly human relations and by taking an interest in their continuing formation, especially from the doctrinal and spiritual viewpoints. The mission is rooted in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations of irregularity. In this sense, it is important to encourage in priests, especially in the young generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of the Church's entire fund of doctrine. It seems urgent to recover that awareness that has always been at the heart of the Church's mission, which impels priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both for their judgement of faith, for their personal virtues as well as for the habit, in the contexts of culture and of charity.

As Church and as priests, we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ, Crucified and Risen, Sovereign of time and of history, in the glad certainty that this truth coincides with the deepest expectations of the human heart. In the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, that is, of the fact that God became man like us, lies both the content and the method of Christian proclamation. The true dynamic centre of the mission is here: in Jesus Christ, precisely. The centrality of Christ brings with it the correct appreciation of the ministerial priesthood, without which there would be neither the Eucharist, nor even the mission nor the Church herself. In this regard it is necessary to be alert to ensure that the "new structures" or pastoral organizations are not planned on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the proper promotion of the laity for a time in which one would have "to do without" the ordained ministry, because in that case the presuppositions for a further dilution of the ministerial priesthood would be laid and possible presumed "solutions" might come dramatically to coincide with the real causes of contemporary problems linked to the ministry.

I am certain that in these days the work of the Plenary Assembly, under the protection of the Mater Ecclesiae, will be able to examine these brief ideas that I permit myself to submit to the attention of the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, while I invoke upon you all an abundance of heavenly gifts, as a pledge of which I impart a special, affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you and to all your loved ones.

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI
to the Members of the Congregation for the Clergy
on the Occasion of their Plenary Assembly

Monday, 16 March 2009

Please Pray for Priests
Dear Lord,
we pray that the Blessed Mother
wrap her mantle around your priests
and through her intercession
strengthen them for their ministry.
We pray that Mary will guide your priests
to follow her own words,
“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).
May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph,
Mary’s most chaste spouse.
May the Blessed Mother’s own pierced heart
inspire them to embrace
all who suffer at the foot of the cross.
May your priests be holy,
filled with the fire of your love
seeking nothing but your greater glory
and the salvation of souls.
Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

A Priest’s Prayer
Loving Father,
I praise you, I love you, I adore you.
Send your Holy Spirit to enlighten my mind
to the truth of your Son, Jesus,
Priest and Victim.
Through the same Spirit guide my heart to his Sacred Heart,
to renew in me a priestly passion
that I, too, might lay down my life upon the altar.
May your Spirit wash away my impurities
and free me from all my transgressions
in the Cup of Salvation,
Let only your will be done in me.
May the Blessed Mother of your dearly beloved Son,
wrap her mantle around me and protect me from all evil.
May she guide me to do whatever He tells me.
May she teach me to have the heart of St. Joseph, her spouse,
to protect and care for my bride.
And may her pierced heart inspire me
to embrace as my own your children
who suffer at the foot of the cross.
I humbly cry to her:
please be my consoling mother,
and help me to be a better son.
Lord, make me a holy priest,
inflamed with the fire of your love, seeking nothing
but your greater glory and the salvation of souls.
I humbly bless and thank you, my Father,
through the Spirit, in Christ Jesus,
your Son and my brother.
O Mary, Queen of priests, pray for us.
Saint John Vianney, pray for us.