By Christopher Wells
On the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis ordained sixteen men to the priesthood, including eleven for the Diocese of Rome. In his homily, based on a pre-set formula for Masses of Ordination, the Holy Father called the new priests to not “grow tired of being merciful.” “Think of your own sins,” he said, “your own miseries, the miseries that Jesus has pardoned. Be merciful!”
The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is observed each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. In each of the three annual lectionary cycles, the Fourth Sunday of Easter includes a Gospel focusing on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
The website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops notes, “The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publically fulfill the Lord's instruction to, ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest’.” The Church fully appreciates all vocations, it notes, but on this Sunday “concentrates its attention" on "vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), to the Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission ‘ad gentes’ [to the nations].”
The sixteen men ordained on Sunday come from all over the world: in addition to five Romans and three Indians, the new priests hail from Croatia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Colombia, El Salvador, Madagascar, Romania, and Peru.
“May your teaching be nourishment to the People of God,” the Pope said, “and the perfume of your life be joy and support to the faithful of Christ.” And, he added, “may your word and example edify the House of God which is the Church.”
Pope Francis encouraged the new priests to be intent on pleasing God alone, rather than themselves or other human persons, or seeking other selfish interests. They should be concerned, he said, only with “service to God, for the good of the holy faithful People of God.”