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Preface

“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.

  • St. John Mary ianney

We all live busy lives—priests and laypeople alike—and some- times we fail to take the time to truly reflect on what we do and why we do it. Inspired, no doubt, by the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict XVI in June 2009 inaugurated a Year for Priests. He was wise to do so, for it has given all of us in the Church time to meditate on the great gift of the priesthood.

What makes a great priest? When he announced the Year for Priests, Pope Benedict declared St. John Vianney the universal patron of priests and relied on him as the model for all priests. What was it about this nineteenth-century French pastor—a sim- ple parish priest who ministered in the small village of Ars—that warrants such an honor? Here are some of the pope’s observa- tions about John Vianney’s ministry:

  • He identified himself completely with his ministry. There is “extraordinary fruitfulness,” the pope said, when the holi- ness of the ministry of the priesthood coincides with the holiness of the person who is the priest.

  • He taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray. He communicated the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist to his parishioners by the way he celebrated Mass.

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