Pope to Send Clergy Congregation Prefect to Ars


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ARS, France, JULY 31, 2009 ( Cardinal Claudio Hummes will represent Benedict XVI at celebrations in Ars on the feast of John Vianney, the saint the Holy Father has proposed as the model for this Year for Priests.

The prefect of the Congregation for Clergy will be the papal legate for the Aug. 4 Mass in the town where John Vianney practiced his ministry.

The celebration this year marks the 150th anniversary of John Vianney's death; the Year for Priests is marking that anniversary and a jubilee year in Ars has also celebrated the event.

The sanctuary will have two days of celebration. On Aug. 3, Father Jean-Philippe Nault, rector of the sanctuary, will give a conference titled: "The Cure d'Ars: Holy Patron of the World's Priests." Later that day, Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars will give a talk on the Year for Priests. A Mass will then be celebrated to pray for priestly vocations, and a prayer vigil with confessions will follow.

Cardinal Hummes will celebrate Mass the next day. At the end of Mass, there will be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the closing event will be the unveiling of a new statue of St. John Vianney.

In the June 16 letter by which Benedict XVI proclaimed the Year for Priests, the Pope reflected on the life of the saint of Ars.

"Saint John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life," he wrote. "It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."

And, he added, it was the saint's "deep personal identification with the sacrifice of the cross [that] led him -- by a sole inward movement -- from the altar to the confessional."