Today, we are celebrating the feast of our patron saint and founder, St. John Eudes, a man who had an immense love for God and for his people. St. John Eudes would say,
“I wish to have but one increasing purpose here on earth; I desire nothing, only to love Jesus, who is the love and delight of heaven and earth. Ah, Jesus! Ah, My Dear Jesus! What do I desire on earth? Nothing, O my all, but only to love You.
It is this love of God that catapulted St. John Eudes to institute three communities to serve humanity.
First, St. John Eudes founded our beloved sisters, the Order of Our Lady of Charity, to accompany and assist morally endangered women, especially those in prostitution. The sisters helped these women rediscover their dignity as beautiful children of God by caring for their physical and spiritual needs. Today, this mission continues through the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Our Lady of Charity, founded by St. Mary Euphrasia, who was once a sister of Our Lady of Charity and the most illustrious of St. John Eudes’ spiritual daughters.
Second, St. John Eudes founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, also known as the Eudists or Eudist Fathers. St. John Eudes lived in a time of spiritual renewal in the Church. The Church was in need for ‘good laborers for the harvest’ and the formation of the priests was very minimal, to say the least. St. John Eudes was called to provide formation to the priests of his region by founding six seminaries in France. St. John Eudes also saw a need to evangelize the people of God. In addition to his work in the seminaries, St. John Eudes would organize parish missions to evangelize the people of the surrounding cities and towns. St. John Eudes would spend weeks in small towns, preaching the Word of God and offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He would preach about the Love and Mercy of God that he experienced in his own life.
Finally, St. John Eudes also founded a group of lay men and women to continue his apostolic mission to ‘make Jesus live and reign in the souls of every Christian and to establish His Spirit and His love in their hearts.’ Having access to other areas of society, these men and women called the Society of the Heart of the Most Admirable Mother continued the mission that we have all inherited from St. John Eudes. Counted among its members is St. Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who dedicated her life to the mission of serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Jesus Christ. Blessed Amelie Fristel, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary in France, is also part of this group.
As members of the only parish in the United States under the patronage of St. John Eudes, which is also under the pastoral care of the Eudists, we also form part of this Great Eudist Family. This is why we pray after receiving the Eucharist, ‘Lord, grant to us who have enjoyed spiritual food to pursue the action of St. John Eudes in making your love in our hearts real and active, so that we may be found faithful in working for your glory and the salvation of the people.’ May this prayer be incarnate in all of us!
Fr. Eleuterio Mireles Jr., CJM