The first time I heard of St. John Vianney’s name, it was back when I was in Catholic school and some students from St. John Vianney high school came to visit and showcase the school for us. In college, one of my friends in a Bible Study class had a devotion to him. If there’s one word I can use to describe St. John Vianney it’s “fidelity.” Not just his fidelity to the Blessed Virgin or to Saint Philomena (his favorite), but also to his job as the Cure of Ars.
It takes fidelity to persevere in one’s studies even when you’re not book smart. I think a lot of student can understand. St. John Vianney’s struggles to pass his classes. Some students even asked for St. John Vianney’s intercession for passing exams.
It also takes fidelity to listen to so many people give confessions for such a long amount of time. If I had a TARDIS, I would’ve loved to have gone back in time and have him hear my confession. He was gifted with the ability to read hearts, which meant he understood people on a deeper level than most.
He also knew what was most important to him: being God’s servant. He spent so much time in prayer the night before he was to leave to join Napoleon’s Army that he completely forgot to leave. He hid out until deserters were granted amnesty. He kept on being a priest even when being a Catholic was considered illegal.
In these days when I hear news reports of celebrities with long marriages suddenly filing for divorce, St. John Vianney’s fidelity to his life as a priest give me a sense of relief. He never considered retiring or giving up on his job, even though he did on little sleep (constant attacks from the devil). Although he attempted to run away to live as a monk, he never succeeded. While running away to live as a monk may not seem like a sign of fidelity, I interpret that as him trying to escape the near occasion of pride. He was becoming a world-renowned priest and he saw isolation as a way to increase in humility. God, of course, had other plans. St. John Vianney stayed in Ars in his final years. His incorrupted body is on display there today.
I also feel like millenials can learn some things about St. John Vianney about leadership. Being a parish priest is a literal lifetime job. You can’t clock out of it like you would at a normal everyday job. St. John Vianney led his parish with humility and discipline and care for others. I hope that us young adults can do the same with the same fidelity towards the church and to each other that he had for his church and his flock.
St. John Vianney, pray for us!