Spirituality Year for Priests

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September 12-13, 2009: Ars Pilgrimage of St. Peter Seminary of Wigratzbad

Our Holy Father has declared that this year (19th of June 2009-19th of June 2010) is the “Year for Priests”.  This is to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of the Saint Curé of Ars.   In order to associate ourselves with this great intention for the priesthood and to meditate upon the example of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the French-speaking seminarians of Wigratzbad as well as some of the German seminarians accompanied by the general superior, made a pilgrimage to Ars on the 12th and 13th of September.  We were joined by many faithful and by priests of the French, German and Swiss districts.

Saturday the 12th of September

Our pilgrimage was organized for two days.  The 1st day took place in Ars and started Saturday afternoon with the celebration of a Pontifical Mass offered in the beautiful Basilica next to the holy Curé’s home.  His Excellency, Bishop Brouwet, Auxiliary Bishop of Nanterre graciously accepted to accompany us on that day and to celebrate the Mass.  He had the privilege of using the chalice of the holy Curé and delivered a wonderful homily on the priesthood and the example of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney.  After the Mass and a thanksgiving, it was time for lunch during which Bishop Brouwet had the opportunity of meeting numerous priests, seminarians and faithful.  At 2:30 pm, he gave a conference on the priesthood which was attended by the seminarians and some of the faithful.  Afterwards, we made our way to the ‘monument of the encounter’ while praying the rosary.  This monument commemorates Saint Jean-Marie Vianney’s arrival to Ars.  When the new Curé was lost on his journey to Ars, he met a little shepherd (Antoine Givre) who told him the way.  The Saint therefore said to him:  “You have showed me the way to Ars, I will show you the way to heaven”.  In the afternoon, we were able to visit the house of the holy Curé which was followed by Vespers which was sung by Bishop Brouwet in the crypt of the sanctuary.  After dinner, the Office of Compline was sung in the Basilica while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the Chapel of Providence.  Many people attended to pray for vocations, taking turns throughout the night.

Sunday the 13th of September

At 8:00 am, pilgrims started arriving on the porch of the church of Trévoux, 15 km from Ars.  Different groups were arranged and Fr. Ribeton, French District Superior, gave the signal for the march to begin.  Eleven groups of approximately 50 people each began the walk along the side of the Saone River towards Ars.  The weather was outstanding and we were joined at the midday halt by many other pilgrims.  Once we arrived at Our Lady of Mercy in Ars where other faithful expected us, the Very Reverend Father John Berg, assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon of the Fraternity’s American seminary, celebrated the Mass for the closing of the pilgrimage in the presence of about a thousand faithful.  The Mass was served and sung by the seminarians with the help of the choir of our church in Lyon for the polyphony. We hope to renew this pilgrimage next year and to see even more of you.

[Photos of Ars Pilgrimage]

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