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Saturday, 19 April 2014
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Patron Saint of Parishes:

Lessons in Prayer Ministry

It was a time of indifference. There was no God, only the state.

The year was 1818 as a young, newly assigned priest felt his way in the dark along the rough track that led to a remote parish called Ars, in the heart of France. During the previous thirty years, France had become a country devoid of religious influence. Man was now the architect, guided by reason and science. It was to become the blueprint for the modern, secular state. The priest's first call was to the church.

The Light in the Sanctuary had gone out

Trochu wrote in his biography that what chilled Fr. John most was that the light in the sanctuary had gone out and the tabernacle was empty.

First he prayed, "My God, grant me the conversion of my parish". Later he wrote, "My people had forgotten the way to the church. Whatever the cost I must get them there, but haven't I got prayer at my disposal!

Years later, one of his early helpers wrote that 'the parish he found was, like many others, in the utmost spiritual poverty, with little thought given to the way of salvation. Virtue was little known or practised and the young people had nothing in their heads but the pursuit of pleasure and amusement.'

We now know that Fr. John Vianney had been given the task of establishing a parish that would be a leaven to the "modern" society ushered in by the French Revolution, and a model for parishes in years to come. Abbé Mannin, his biographer and colleague, describes the means by which the young priest began the successful renewal of his parish: "His first desire was to establish in his church the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; but where was he to find adorers?" He need not have feared, for the future adorers were at hand. Mannin continues, " Now was the heart of the holy Curé glad within him. His Lord would no longer be left alone: he had formed a little Court around Him. At whatever hour you entered the church you would find at least two adorers. He now began, as we have seen, by drawing together around him, and to the feet of the Lord, a little company of chosen souls, to go forth with him to the help of the Lord against the mighty. He was no longer alone. Their prayers, alms and communions stayed up his hands when over-wearied with the struggle, and one by one the strongholds of evil fell before him."

In 1925 Father John Vianney was canonised, and in 1929 was declared patron (and model) of parishes. God, in His wisdom, was establishing another blueprint- a blueprint for parish to transform the world around it.

The Rathkenny Prayer Ministry seeks to emulate that by establishing:

  • A Parish Prayer team to intercede
  • With a daily commitment to pray
  • A Prayer Card
  • Focused Prayer
  • Prayer of Praise
  • Asks God's action in the parish
  • Recognises that God Alone . . .
  • Prayer intention as voiced by the Parish Priest


"Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there; if you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that."
St. John Vianney


Correspondent Caoimhín O Maolagáin informs us that this year the shrine at Ars celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the death of St John Vianney, and that there is a website link HERE

For a fuller biography of the saint, click on St John Vianney

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