Most will be familiar, a few others less so, but they all stand the test of time.
For a boy you hope will be a brave spiritual leader. John Vianney (1786–1859) lived in France at a time when it was illegal for Catholics to attend Mass. His family, and others, often traveled long distances in order to hear priests covertly preach Mass, and due to the courage of these spiritual leaders, he felt a strong draw towards what he saw as the heroism of the priesthood. He became a priest as soon as the laws in France were changed, allowing the practice of the Faith.
For a brave child who puts others before himself. Maximilian Kolbe (1894–1941) was a Polish Franciscan friar with a heartbreaking story that shows his strength of character. He was captured by German authorities in February 1941 and imprisoned in Auschwitz. When three prisoners disappeared from the camp, one of the camp commanders ordered 10 prisoners to be starved to death in retaliation. Kolbe put himself forward to replace one of the selected 10.
For a boy who will tend to the sinned-against. Peter Claver (1580–1654) was born in Spain and entered the Jesuit order at an early age. He traveled to Colombia, where thousands of African slaves were brought ashore each month, and spent the next 33 years ministering tirelessly to these people, nursing the sick, baptizing them and ensuring they knew of God’s love for them.
For a child who will feed the hungry. Vincent de Paul (1581–1660) was a French priest who spent much of his time tending to the poor, sick and the lame. He understood the limitations of individual effort and so he reached out to the wealthy, asking them to support his efforts. He and his helpers gave soup and bread to as many as 16,000 poor people each day. Many parishes today continue the work of Vincent through their St. Vincent de Paul societies.
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