A French relic’s well-timed go to to Los Angeles
In the few moments she spent with the incorruptible heart of Saint John Vianney during her visit to the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Van Nuys on February 22nd, Milagros “Lally” Guiao asked the legendary saint for only one thing .
“Give us holy priests.”
There were many other things that Guiao could have asked the French saint for during the relic’s only stop in the San Fernando Valley during his tour of several parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from February 20-26.
However, as the church continues to be plagued by the clergy abuse crisis, Guiao and her husband Rey, a deacon of the Church of Our Lady of Peace in North Hills believe that visiting the relic could not have come at a better time.
“To become a priest in our church at this time is not easy. There are many challenges and difficulties, ”said Deacon Guiao, who found Vianney himself suffered and persecuted throughout his life.
“We want our priests to remain faithful to their calling and to continue to encourage and strengthen the ward and flock that have been given to them,” added the deacon.
The Los Angeles visit was part of a six-month “Heart of a Priest’s” tour of the United States sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, whose members work shifts to guard the relic at all times during its public display.
The relic arrived at St. Elizabeth, as it has in dozens of parishes, seminaries, and even conferences across the country in recent months: encased in a shiny reliquary with two knees that allow believers to take it in turns from centimeters to worship way.
The incorruptible heart is perhaps the most visual and enduring piece of evidence pointing to Vianney’s holiness and holiness.
In 1909, 50 years after Vianney’s death, his body was exhumed and inexplicably found not to have decayed. Soon after, his heart was placed in a separate container and worshiped with his body in Ars, France, the city where Vianney ministered for 40 years until his death in 1859.
Wherever the relic went, the troubled times in the Catholic Church seemed to be on everyone’s lips – and in their prayers.
Pupils from the St. Elisabeth School of Hungary in Van Nuys (bottom left) worshiped the relic after the mass (PABLO KAY)
The day before the relic’s visit to St. Elizabeth, it spent a day at St. John Chrysostom Church in Inglewood, where worship began with an 8 o’clock mass attended by students from the parish school.
In his homily, Associate Pastor Father Anthony Garcias explained the importance of the contents of the golden reliquary to the children as he spoke the first reading of the day (on the covenant God made with Noah after the Flood) on the need for renewal in the Church Association.
“God does not want renewal by erasing things, but by renewing us, by changing us from within,” Garcias said afterwards in an interview with Angelus News.
Garcias called the relic’s visit to his parish “a great privilege” and said that as a young priest he was particularly inspired by Vianney’s example of patience, hearing for hours confessions that he believed were also essential for renewal in the Church are necessary in the face of confusion and scandal.
“Reform in the Church will necessarily be a slow process, and for that we need a lot of patience, not trying to speed things up according to our wishes and our schedule, but rather according to God’s time and wishes.” Said Garcias.
A longtime follower of Vianney, Barbara Sterbentz said she couldn’t afford to miss visiting the relic at St. John Chrysostom, the stop closest to her Orange County home. So she and two friends got up early to brave Huntington Beach rush hour traffic together.
“I love how he loved his church, and he sacrificed so much and converted so many souls,” said Sterbentz after mass.
The relic also visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated Sunday mass in his presence on February 24th.
“In the presence of the heart of this holy priest, St. John Vianney, let us pray that God will continue to renew His Church and grant us more holy priests and more holy bishops,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily.
The next day, the relic received its biggest LA tour reception at its eponymous ward, St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights. Thousands attended a vigil and candlelight procession, followed by a prayer service in Taize and time for silent adoration.
The person who may have spent the most time with the Relic over the past few months is Evan Holguin, a Santa Clarita native who works for the Knights of Columbus at their Connecticut headquarters.
As steward of the relic during some of the final legs of the tour, Holguin traveled between states across the country – Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, to name a few – and sometimes carried the relic as carry-on baggage on airplanes, and sometimes its passenger during trips in between Places of worship.
“It’s not something anyone can say they’ve been able to do,” noted Holguin, who also contributes to Angelus.
For Holguin, his job meant sitting in pews for up to 14 hours a day, while believers participate in liturgies or silent devotion.
“It is difficult to learn how to spend this time well and prayerfully,” admitted Holguin, who made sure that the LA visit included a stop at his home church of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Santa Clarita on February 20, I Am Me sure St. John Vianney prays that by the end of this pilgrimage I will get better at it. ”
Pablo Kay is the editor of Angelus.
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