St Peter Chanel, a Marist Priest, whose feast day we celebrated on the 29th April is the patron saint of the Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand. St Peter Chanel worked as a missionary on the island of Futuna where few were converted to the Catholic faith during his time there so it would seem he had a very unsuccessful ministry. His missionary work caused him to be clubbed to death and martyred.
After St Peter Chanel’s death the whole island of Futuna converted to the Catholic faith. St Peter Chanel’s death teaches us that failure is not necessarily a bad thing. But more importantly, he was a faithful and zealous Priest, with a big heart, working tirelessly for the people of Futuna as this quote clearly shows.
“He would refuse nothing to the people of Futuna, not even to those who were persecuting him. He would always excuse them, never turn them away, even if their behaviour was rough and menacing. He showed an unexampled sweetness of manner in every situation and towards everybody, without exception.” The Divine Office II pg 122*
It is not easy to measure the successfulness of what Priests do. St Peter Chanel from the outside was not a successful missionary Priest but in another sense he was incredibly successful and fruitful.
Men who are discerning their vocations may see themselves in St Peter Chanel, being zealous for doing the Lord’s work at any cost and may also experience much failure. St Peter Chanel is an inspiration, and we ask him today to pray for not only more vocations for our diocese and for New Zealand, but for men who will have the same zealous hearts to work for the Lord in the Priesthood, at home or in the missions.
Kind regards and God bless
Fr Eamon Kennedy
2nd May 2013
Feast of St Athanasius