Priests gather for St. John Vianney Cookout

BRIGHTON ? In casual dress, more than 160 priests and seminarians gathered with Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley at St. John’s Seminary Aug. 2 for an evening Holy Hour anticipating the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.

After the Holy Hour, the cardinal greeted all the priests and joined them for a cookout on the grounds of the seminary where many of them studied for the priesthood.

It was a very hot day and wearing a white surplice over his brown Capuchin robe, the cardinal began his remarks at the service with his recollection of a Capuchin rule that three articles of clothing was too much. “Today, two is too many.”

“Being a priest is important,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “Thank you for saying ‘yes’ to the priesthood.”

The archbishop thanked the priests for their dedication to their vocation in today’s cultural climate. “Our mission as priests is to invite people to come home,” he said.

The people need to hear the message from priests: “You have been lied to. There is a God and he loves you.”

Priests must bring the message that in a culture that pulls people in 1,000 different directions it is impossible to live your life rescinded from God, he said.

St. John Vianney, had a message to priests as well, he said ? “If you truly understood the priesthood we would die, not of fear, but of hope.”

This is the third year the Archdiocese’s Office of Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation has co-sponsored the St. John Vianney Cookout, which last year included the visit and adoration of the relic of the saint’s heart, said Father William T. Kelley, who was the cantor for part of the service. The event was also sponsored by the Archdiocese’s Office of Vocations.

Father Kelly said the event is an opportunity for priests to get together in fellowship while focusing on the life of their patron saint, also known as the Cure d’Ars.

Part of the fellowship is the participation of seminarians, including a small group from Hanoi, who are now taking an English as a Second Language program before beginning their regular studies at St. John’s, he said.

“Being here in the chapel with so many other men singing and praying was a powerful experience,” said Jeff A. Ossinger an incoming seminarian from Tewksbury’s St. William Parish.

Ossinger said he graduated from Williams College in Williamstown in 2005 and began to seriously discern his vocation while working for campus ministry at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.

He said he made his decision while walking The Way of James, the 200-mile pilgrimage to the cathedral at Santiago, Spain, where the remains of St. James are buried. “There were many times when I was alone to contemplate my vocation. There was a lot of time spent in silence and there I received the grace of courage to make a move,” he said.