Relic of holy priest offers a chance to pray for church and her ministers

Students and parishioners from St. Elisabeth of Hungary School in Van Nuys, Calif., venerated the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney after Mass in Van Nuys Feb. 22. The heart is on tour through the United Syates until June. It will be in the Archdiocese of Louisville March 10 and 11. (CNS Photo by Pablo Kay, The Angelus)

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The incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney will be in the Archdiocese of Louisville March 10 & 11 at St. John Vianney Church, 4839 Southside Drive.

Veneration & adoration:
9 p.m. March 10
to 4 p.m. March 11

Masses:

March 10 — 9 p.m. with Archbishop Kurtz

March 11 — 9 a.m.
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By Pablo Kay, Catholic News Service

VAN NUYS, Calif. — In the few moments she spent up close and personal with the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney during its visit to St. Elisabeth of Hungary Church in Van Nuys Feb. 22, Milagros “Lally” Guiao only asked the legendary saint for one thing.

“Give us holy priests.”

There were plenty of other things Guiao could have asked the French saint’s intercession for during the relic’s only stop in the San Fernando Valley during its Feb. 20-26 tour through several parishes of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

But as the reawakening clergy abuse crisis continues to afflict the Catholic Church, Guiao and her husband, Rey, a deacon at Our Lady of Peace Church in North Hills, believe the relic’s visit could not have come at a better time.

“Becoming a priest at this time in our church is not easy; there are a lot of challenges and difficulties,” said Deacon Guiao, who noted that St. John Vianney himself suffered and faced persecution during his life.

“We want our priests to remain faithful to their vocations, to continue to encourage and strengthen the parish and the flock that they were given,” added the deacon.

The Los Angeles visit was part of a six-month “Heart of a Priest” tour throughout the U.S. sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, whose members stand guard over the relic in shifts at all hours during its public exposition.

The relic arrived at St. Elisabeth as it has at dozens of parishes, seminaries, and even conferences around the country in the past few months: encased in a shiny reliquary with a pair of kneelers that allow the faithful to take turns venerating it from inches away.

The incorrupt heart is perhaps the most visual — and enduring — piece of evidence pointing to the holiness and sainthood of the patron of parish priests.

In 1909, 50 years after his death, his body was exhumed and inexplicably found not to have decayed. Soon after, his heart was placed in a separate container and has been venerated with his body in Ars, France, the town where St. John Vianney ministered as a parish priest for 40 years until his death in 1859. He is often referred to as the “Cure d’Ars,” for his priestly and pastoral work.

The relic will be in the Archdiocese of Louisville this coming Sunday and Monday — March 10 and 11. It is expected to arrive Sunday evening at St. John Vianneuy Church, 4839 Southside Drive. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will celebrate a special Mass at 9 p.m.

The relic will be available for veneration throughout the night along with the Blessed Sacrament, which will be exposed for adoration.

Another Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. March 11. Veneration and adoration will continue throughout the day and will conclude at 4 p.m. 

Father Anthony Chinh Ngo, pastor of St. John Vianney, has issued an open invitation for those who’d like to pray in the church and ask for the intercession of St. John Vianney.

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