As the cause for canonization of Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian priest who founded the Society of Divine Vocations for men and the Vocationist Sisters, advances, members of the society in Vermont look forward to celebrating “with everyone in the world when the Church officially declares him as a saint.”

That is how Vocationist Father Rijo Johnson, pastor of Mater Dei Parish in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, describes the anticipation.

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Blessed Russolillo in October during a meeting with Cardinal-designate Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

He approved the miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Russolillo, who was born in 1891 and died in 1955.

“He is our father of the congregation and we are his children. He was a very humble priest,” Father Johnson said.

The miracle attributed to Blessed Russolillo related to a young Vocationist seminarian, Jean Emile. In 2016 he was hospitalized and suffered from a variety of maladies including seizures and respiratory failure. Vocationists throughout the world prayed to “Father Justin” [as Blessed Russolillo is known in English] for his healing.

On April 18, 2016, a Vocationist brother brought the image of Blessed Father Justin with his relic to Jean Emilie’s hospital room, and by April 21, the young man’s condition had improved. He was released from the hospital on May 3 without any side effects.

Members of the Vocationists now wait for Pope Francis to authorize the publication of the decree that officially will recognize this miracle to be through the intercession of their beloved founder.

“We know we need more vocations in the Diocese of Burlington. We need to pray for vocations more than before,” Father Johnson said. “Now, we are going to receive a saint who lead those prayers for vocations in the Universal Church. … He absolutely fulfills the invitation of our Jesus in Matthew 9:38: ‘So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.’”

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