Last week Fr Julian and myself were in Ars with the other members of the John Vianney Society for its winter session. It was a week of grace! We took part in so many prayer-times and conversations with priests and seminarians which were full of the power of grace.
The Bishop of Belley-Ars was also with us throughout the session. Mgr Guy-Marie Bagnard is the founder of the Priestly Foyer and Seminary at Ars and the founder of the John Vianney Society. As Bishop he is now the guardian of the Charism of the Society: to seek the renewal of priestly interiority and spirituality through fraternity. One evening he wished to see both Fr Julian and myself, he shared his joy with us that we had become members of his society and he addressed us as brothers wanting to know both of us as persons. We were left in no doubt that the Bishop of Belley-Ars has the charism and gift of fatherhood in great measure - he is a real father to his priests and his seminarians.
One evening the whole house took part in a Holy Hour of silent adoration in the seminary chapel. The bishop was in a front bench, bowed in prayer throughout. Suddenly, it became obvious to us how this beautiful house for priests and seminarians has come about, and how the Society has come about - Mgr Bagnard has prayed them into existence. His prayer for us, for priests and for the Church was tangible in that Holy Hour. Not only was Christ feeding us in his presence, but the Bishop too was a channel of grace. This bishop is a light in the Church in Europe; he is a bishop of the New Evangelisation. His priestly frienship is very active - he is a brother, a father and a spouse. St John Vianney's prayers and the Bishop's prayers are bringing priests alive! Let us ask that their prayers and their lives will continue to bear much fruit for the Church in Europe.