On the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, on Sunday, Pope Francis ordained ten men to the priesthood for the diocese of Rome in St Peter’s Basilica, mandating them to ‘build the house of God, which is the Church, in word and example’.
The men ranging in age from 26 to 44, came from from the Diocesan major seminary, the Neocatechumenal Way seminary for the diocese, Redemptoris Mater and the Oblates of Divino Amore seminary.
Before the Mass, the Holy Father surprised the men by joining them in the basilica sacristy. Carrying on a tradition he began when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he spent a moment in prayer with each of them before
commending them and their ministry to the Blessed Virgin.
The homily delivered by the Holy Father ahead of the rite of consecration was based on the one that appears in the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, with a few personal additions. Reflecting on the sacraments that these men would soon begin to administer upon he asked them “always be merciful pastors” to their people and not just ‘functionaries’.
The theme of vocations also dominated Pope Francis’ address before praying the midday Regina Caeli prayer with pilgrims who crowded into St Peter’s Square and surrounding streets on Sunday.
Looking out over 70,000 plus crowd, Pope noticed many young people there and addressed an appeal directly to them, to ‘listen for the voice of Jesus and bravely ask Him what he wants of you’.
Pope Francis noted that "sometimes Jesus calls us, invites us to follow him, but it may happen that we do not realize” that it is Him speaking to us. He went on to ask the young people to listen carefully for Christ’s voice the midst of their restlessness, observing that youth should be spent in the pursuit of high ideals and inviting the young people to have the courage to listen to the Lord.
He also noted that “behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life, is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community”, asking believers everywhere to redouble their prayers today for more “labourers for the Lord’s harvest”.
After the Marian prayer Pope Francis launched a series of appeals for the populations of Venezula and China. The first hit by post-electoral turmoil the second by a devastating earthquake.
The Holy Father invited prayers for China "for the victims and for those who are suffering because of the violent earthquake" in Sichuan province. He also called on “the beloved Venezuelan people, especially institutional authorities and politicians to firmly reject any type of violence, and to establish a dialogue based on truth, in mutual recognition, in the search for the common good and love for the nation".
Finally, after entrusting all of his intentions to Mary, Queen of the Heavens, Pope Francis wished all a blessed Sunday and a good lunch.