As Viatorians around the world celebrate the feast of St. Viator (Oct. 21), an international group — representing some of the countries where Viatorians minister — gathered for Mass today at Saint Viator High School.
Clustered around the altar, under 17 international flags, professed Viatorians came from Benin in West Africa, Canada, Chile, Colombia and the United States. The Mass was celebrated in multiple languages, with songs, readings, prayers and petitions offered in English, French, Italian, Mandarin and Polish.
Viatorian associates sat in the first row of the Mass and at the end, turned and faced the student body as they joined with professed Viatorians to recommit themselves to the mission.
Associate Brian Hansen, a religion teacher at the school, described the role of associates to the students and faculty before the Mass: “We work alongside professed Viatorians to reach out to those accounted of little importance. We are called to help one another, not to be seen but to shine a light on one another. We are companions on the journey.”
Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, Provincial, was the main celebrant. In his homily, he described St. Viator and explained why the Venerable Louis Querbes chose the 4th Century saint as the patron for his new congregation. For starters, he said, Viator was a lector at the church in Lyon, Fr Querbes’ hometown, meaning he read Biblical passages during the liturgy.
“He understood and believed in a God revealed in the Bible as loving and reaching out in love and compassion to human beings,” Fr. Mark said. “And Viator was also a catechist. He taught the faith — not in some abstract way, but because he knew the Bible, because he read with faith and conviction, he was able to teach and share with others the good news of Jesus Christ.”
“He was a lector and catechist,” Fr. Mark added. “In a way, these activities summed up what he wanted the first Viatorians to do — to dedicate themselves to a spirituality centered on the Bible, to help the parish priest by preparing the liturgy in the parish church and to teach students in small towns in France by offering a basic education inspired by the Christian message.”
Those same pillars of faith continue to drive Viatorians to this day, whose mission is to “announce Jesus Christ and his Gospel and to raise up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated.”