Saints & Sacraments: John Vianney, a patron for Holy Orders

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The humble and holy St. John Vianney is one of the most beloved priests in the history of the Catholic Church. He embraced his vocation to the priesthood, dedicating his life entirely to God and his people.

In the sacrament of Holy Orders, a baptized man is called by God to serve the faithful. His role is very important in the Church. He represents Christ and leads people to God through his daily witness of the faith. In 1929, Pope Pius XI named John Vianney patron saint of parish priests. To this day, he stands as an unequaled model of the priesthood.

John Vianney’s life

JOHN VIANNEY (1786-1859)
Also known as the Curé of Ars
Feast day: August 4
Patron saint of parish priests and confessors

John Vianney’s dream was to be a priest and lead people to heaven. He struggled academically in the seminary, but he persevered and was ordained in 1815. In 1818 he was sent to the remote village of Ars, France. The people of Ars had grown careless and indifferent about practicing their faith. John Vianney worked diligently day after day to lead his parishioners back to the Church. He visited families in their homes and offered prayers and penances for them. Through his preaching, teaching, and celebrating the Eucharist, he transformed their hearts and lives.

John Vianney was best known as a tireless confessor, often spending 16 hours a day in the confessional. Thousands of people traveled to Ars seeking his spiritual guidance and advice.

Saint activities

■ John Vianney brought a spiritual vitality to his parish. Think of ways you can be involved in your parish.
■ Read biographies of other saints who were priests, such as John Bosco, Padre Pio, or Thomas Aquinas.

The sacrament of Holy Orders

Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Orders at the Last Supper. He chose 12 apostles to lead his Church on earth. Today, men called to the vocation of the priesthood lead the Catholic Church in the tradition of the apostles. They make Christ’s presence known in the world.

Holy Orders is a Sacrament at the Service of Communion. A baptized man is ordained to serve the Church as a deacon, priest, or bishop.

Only a bishop administers the sacrament of Holy Orders. The rite includes the imposition of hands and a prayer of consecration asking for the graces of the Holy Spirit. Like Baptism and Confirmation, Holy Orders confers an indelible spiritual mark on the soul of the recipient.

Sacrament activities

■ Pray for people discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray for the priests that you know. (See page 48 for a special craft to do just that!)
■ Reflect on John Vianney’s words, “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

Take-home activities

■ Research the Serra Club, an organization that promotes and supports vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
■ John Vianney is the patron saint of priests. Pray for all priests. Thank a priest for helping you to grow in your faith.


BARBARA YOFFIE, MRE, is a director of religious education and saint enthusiast. She is the author of the Saints and Me! series from Liguori Publications.


This article was originally published in Catechist, April 2020.

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