To all our parishioners and dear friends of our parish community…Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!
As we are quite aware, our St. John Church is the “Mother Church of the Diocese of Norwich.” Therefore, we among all the parishes of our Diocese have a special reason to celebrate the “Year for Priests” in 2009.
The special year, declared by Pope Benedict XVI, began on June 19th, and will continue until June 19th, 2010. The Pope has also declared St. John Vianney the “Universal Patron of Priests”, as it is the 150th Anniversary of his death.
In the Diocese of Norwich, there are events planned both for priests and our seminarians who are soon to become priests. In deciding to begin the Year for Priests in this month of June traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus itself, Pope Benedict XVI is underscoring the conviction that the very essence of the priest’s identity and ministry is rooted in sharing in the one priestly Heart of Christ. We can all say that the Catholic priesthood is very dear to the Heart of Jesus. All priests are extra special to Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest.
Right now, the Holy Father is calling on us to celebrate the ministerial priesthood, especially through the life and inspiration of St. John Vianney. Many of our seminarians and parish priests have developed a devotion to this saint over the years. I keep a statue and a First Class Relic of this saint in my very own office in the rectory. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t ask his good help in my own parish works.
May this special Year for Priests bring about the renewal of holiness for all the world’s priests. Please check out for yourself the Year for Priests website, www.usccb.org/yearforpriests . This site includes the plenary indulgence in conjunction with the celebration and specially commissioned prayers for priests and laity.
The beautiful stories of healing in today’s Gospel reading relate in many ways to the Church’s Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which involves anointing for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening in a time of grave illness or death. It is the priest who administers this Sacrament in the healing name of Jesus. He carries on Jesus’ mission to heal the sick and proclaims in a particular way that Jesus “saves and raises up.”
The use of “touch” in today’s Gospel corresponds to the laying on of hands the priest uses in the Sacrament. Moreover, in faith a sick person comes to the Sacrament, in which Christ is present through the priest, and God’s presence is known .
In faith, Jairus approached Jesus, as did the woman with a hemorrhage. In times of need, we too, only need to step forward in faith. The simplicity and hope of Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, just have faith” reflect this truth. Keep close to Jesus this week.
Devotedly in the Heart of Jesus