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 | By Michelle Sessions DiFranco

Delicious French greens

In support of our parish priests

All vocations are holy. They come from God. Vocations are born from God’s living Church, and since Christ will never abandon his Church, they will always be with us! Though perhaps fewer in number than in previous decades, the holy priests and the blessed marriages of today will carry the Church and society forward for future generations. The Church will always be a light to the world, even if it goes through periods of trial.

Few people understood that as well as St. John Vianney. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was born in the small town of Dardilly, France in 1786 to a family of farmers. His was a poor, peasant family with few possessions. But he and his family knew that, even though small in number and stretched for resources, they could always help the poor. As the entire Church was born and spread with the commitment and sacrifice of just 12 Apostles, so would John try to amplify God’s work and love with his own life.

John was raised during a time when the Church in France was undergoing tremendous persecution. Anticlericalism was rampant as a part of the great Terror and priests were being executed and banished. The Church was undergoing a dark period, which inspired John. He saw priests, few in number but strong and holy, as heroes. Perhaps this is why he is the patron saint of parish priests.

Ordained a priest in the town of Ars, France, John set about making his vocation holy by remaining joyful and cheerful despite a life of sacrifice and mortification. His reputation grew as a parish priest and confessor, and pilgrims traveled from all over France to come to him for the sacrament of reconciliation. He would spend up to 16 hours a day in the confessional!

John Vianney died on Aug. 4, 1859 at the age of 73, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is an example of someone who believed that even  a few vocations lived with passion, love and sacrifice can bring the Church through the most trying of times.

Salade Lyonnaise is a renowned menu item in the part of France in which Saint John Vianney lived. Its combination of simple ingredients give it a broad appeal so that it can be found throughout the country, from the “hole-in-the wall” cafe to the upscale bistro. Enjoy this delicious recipe in memory of St. John on his feast day, as we call on his intercession in our prayers for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, which he so dearly cherished.

Michelle Sessions DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of three children.

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Salade Lyonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • French baguette (cut in half)
  • 4-5 cups torn frisée (curled endive)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Roughly ½ pound slab bacon cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Make the croutons: Cut one half of a French baguette into cubes. Heat the tablespoon of butter in pan. Toast on medium high heat until light golden brown. Add a dash of salt, stir and set aside.

Sauté cubed bacon in olive oil until crisp. Leaving the drippings in pan, remove bacon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Add shallot to the same pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add vinegar and Dijon mustard and cook until just boiling and shallots are slightly softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Poach the eggs for 3-5 minutes in boiling (salted) water and carefully remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside in a dish.

Toss the warm dressing from pan with the frisée greens. Top off with croutons, bacon cubes and poached egg (in center). Add a bit of salt and cracked pepper on egg and salad. Serve with remaining sliced baguette.