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Monday, April 30, 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 29, 2007 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the fourth Sunday of Easter and the 44th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica during which he conferred priestly ordination upon 22 deacons of the diocese of Rome.

  Eleven of the newly-ordained priests are from the Major Roman Seminary, eight from the "Redemptoris Mater" College and the other three from the Seminary of Divine Love, the "Almo Collegio Capranica," and the Seminary of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

  The Pope began his homily by referring to the Gospel episode of the Good Shepherd. "Christ," he said, "knows His sheep and His sheep know Him, just as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father. This is not merely intellectual knowledge but a profound personal relationship; a knowledge of the heart typical of those who love and are loved, of those who are faithful and who know that, in turn, they can trust. It is a knowledge of love by virtue of which the Shepherd invites His followers to follow Him, and that finds full expression in the gift He gives them of eternal life."

  Addressing the newly-ordained priests, the Holy Father said "may the certainty that Christ does not abandon us and that no obstacle can prevent the realization of His universal plan of salvation be for you a cause of constant consolation - even in times of difficulty - and of unshakeable hope. The goodness of the Lord is always with you and is strong.

  "The Sacrament of Holy Orders," Benedict XVI added, "makes you participants in Christ's own mission. You will be called to spread the seed of His Word, the seed that brings people to the Kingdom of God, to dispense divine mercy and to nourish the faithful at the table of His Body and His Blood. In order to be worthy ministers you must constantly nourish yourselves from the Eucharist, source and summit of Christian life.

  "In approaching the altar, your daily school of sanctity and of communion with Christ, ... you will always discover the wealth and tenderness of the love of the divine Master, Who today calls you to a more intimate friendship with Him.

  "If you listen to Him meekly, if you follow Him faithfully, you will learn to translate His love and His passion for the salvation of souls into life and pastoral ministry. Each of you will become, with Jesus' help, a good shepherd ready to give, if necessary, even your lives for Him."

  The Holy Father went on: "Despite misunderstandings and contrasts, the apostles of Christ do not lose their joy; indeed they are witnesses of the joy that arises from being with the Lord, from love for Him and for our fellows."

  At the end of his homily, the Holy Father called for prayers "so that in all parishes and Christian communities concern for vocations and the formation of priests may grow." In particular, he called upon the newly-ordained priests "to be faithful to the mission to which the Lord calls them today, and to be ready to renew every day their 'yes ' to God, their unreserved 'here I am.' And let us ask the Lord of the harvest, on this Day of Prayer for Vocations, to continue to produce many holy priests, completely dedicated to the service of Christian people."
HML/PRIESTLY VOCATIONS/...                    VIS 20070430 (580)

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