Vatican City (Fides Service) – In St Peter’s Basilica on 11 May, Good Shepherd Sunday, 4th of Easter, traditionally the Church’s annual day of prayer for vocations, Pope John Paul II presided Mass during which he ordained 31 new priests for his own diocese of Rome.
“My dearest Ordinands this day will be unforgettable for each of you. Today you are ‘promoted to the service of Christ, master, priest and king, sharing in his ministry’” said the Pope in his homily. He then recalled the fundamental traits of the priest: “The priest is a man of the Word, whose task it is to carry the Gospel message to the men and women of his time. This he must do with a keen sense of responsibility, striving to be ever more in harmony with the magisterium of the Church. He is also the man of the Eucharist through which he penetrates the heart of the paschal mystery. Particularly during the Holy Mass he sense the need for ever more intimate configuration with Jesus the good Shepherd, supreme and eternal high priest…imitating Christ the Good Shepherd, dear ordinands, you will be ministers of Divine Mercy. You will administer the sacrament of Reconciliation obeying in this way the command the Lord gave to the Apostles after his Resurrection:
The Holy Father exhorted the young men he was ordaining to nourish themselves on the Word of God and to converse with Christ truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar. “To be able to worthily fulfil the task entrusted to you today, you must remain in constant union with God in prayer, and you yourselves must experience his loving mercy through regular practice of Confession”.
“The priest, called in a special way to holiness, is for the entire people of God a witness of the love and joy of Christ – the Pope concluded -. Following the example of the Good Shepherd, the priest helps the faithful to follow Christ, loving him in return.” Addressing the people present for the occasion the Pope said: “Be close to your priests; accompany them with constant prayer and ask the Lord unceasingly to see that workers are never lacking for his harvest ”.(Fides Service 12/5/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 379)