A great celebration took place in Hanoi Cathedral on Tuesday when Cardinal Cescenzio Sepe ordained 57 new priests. The ceremony was the first time a cardinal from the Vatican has conducted an ordination in Vietnam and been widely seen as an indication that relations between the Catholic Church and the Vietnamese are improving. Although there was no official government represention at the service, it was widely reported in the country's media. During his homily, Cardinal Sepe, who is Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples told the ordinands: "The Lord has called you to be his priests and given you the privilege of carrying on his mission of salvation on this earth. Priestly ordination gives you the authority and the duty to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus and to preach on behalf of the Church". Cardinal Sepe stressed the importance of prayer following the example of Jesus: "Prayer is a vital element for the Christian and also a great service which the priest offers his people times reserved for prayer is not time subtracted from the faithful unless we remain united to this source our priestly life is destined to die". Another commitment for a priest is mission: in a country with a population of 80 million of whom only six million are Catholics, the duty to carry the Good News of Jesus to those who have yet to hear it should be keenly felt. "Preaching the Gospel is not proselytising - in the negative sense often attributed to evangelisation, instead it is sharing the joy and truth of the faith with our non Christian brothers and sisters," he said. Remembering that the Church in Vietnam was founded by foreign missionaries - he said - "thanks to God today there are Vietnamese priests who carry the Gospel to other peoples and cultures". After thanking the parents and families of the new priests "for offering them for service of the Church", Cardinal Sepe stressed the need to foster and support vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Vietnamese Catholic families are deeply religious and family prayer is a consolidated practice. The Cardinal asked to them to continue to sanctify the family and protect it from the many evil influences of a society of consumerism and egoism and to "carefully safeguard good traditions of Vietnamese families where family religiosity and respect for the elderly are still deeply rooted. Good families produce good citizens for the human society" the Cardinal concluded, entrusting all Vietnam to Our Lady of Lavang. Source: Fides
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