The Feast of St John Vianney is a great celebration for all priests. This saint expressed the Priesthood so wonderfully that he is as attractive today as he was during his incumbency at Ars.
I have just returned home after the Summer Session of the St John Vianney Society, a week of fraternity by its members, who seek, by priestly fraternity to speak the same language of the Priesthood.
The figure of St John Vianney is an icon of the Priesthood for all priests. He placed his life at the service of the Priesthood in what it was called to be in that age, and the Church gives him to us so that we priests might be what the Priesthood needs to be in the New Evangelisation.
The Diocesan Priesthood can be easily thought of in terms of administration, offering services to people, and in the fulfilment of a role. Yet, the heart of the Diocesan Priesthood, which can easily be overlooked, is the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The essence of the Diocesan Priesthood is to allow ourselves to be modelled, formed by Him, in the way that we seek to offer ourselves to the Father through Christ Jesus; as Christ Jesus.
The interior engagement, by priests, with the heart of Christ Jesus, has never simply been an individual, personal matter, because it is much greater than an individual priest. Priestly fraternity expresses and nurtures the individual priest's interior engagement with the priestly heart of Christ Jesus as a priestly movement within the Church.
Priestly fraternity, as it is lived by the St John Vianney Society, places itself at the service of priests so that priests can better serve the Church. The language that the Society speaks is the language of the Priesthood.
This is so important today when priests tend to be isolated. In such a context the priest can easily feel that he is merely an individual fulfilling a role. Priestly fraternity, which is an essential dimension of the Priesthood, has, in a sense, been rescued by the St John Vianney Society, and placed where it belongs - at the heart of the Church.
I am very grateful to all my brothers in the Priesthood with whom I spent the past seven days, in Ars. I offered the Mass today for all of you. I remember all of you everyday in any case. I ask the Lord to build us and form us for the mission of the Priesthood in the New Evangelisation.