St. Peter Chanel
St. Peter Chanel was born near Belley, France, in 1803. From the time he was seven, he took care of his father's sheep. Though poor, he was intelligent and loved his faith, too. One day, a good parish priest met him. He thought so much of Peter that he asked his parents if he could educate the boy. In this priest's little school, and later in the seminary, Peter studied hard. When he became a priest, he was sent to a parish where just a few Catholics still practiced their faith. Father Chanel was prayerful. He was kind and patient with everyone. In just three years there was a big improvement. Many people became full of love for Jesus and his Church again.
St. Peter Chanel had a great desire to become a missionary. He joined a religious order called Marist missionaries. He hoped he would be sent to bring the Gospel to people who did not yet believe in God. After a few years, his wish came true. He and a group of Marist missionaries were sent to the islands of the South Pacific. Father Chanel and one brother were assigned to the island of Futuna. There the people willingly listened to Father Chanel preach. "This man loves us," one of the people said. "And he himself practices what he teaches us to do."
Unfortunately, the chief of this tribe became jealous of the priest's success. When the chief's own son was baptized, he was furious. He sent a band of his warriors to kill the missionary. All the priest said as he lay dying was, "It is well with me." St. Peter Chanel was killed on April 28, 1841. Within a short time after his martyrdom, the whole island became Christian. Peter was declared a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1954.
Do I desire and hope to bring the gospel to people who do not yet believe in God?