5. Dear brothers and sisters who are participating in this celebration! Let us pray that these 31 new priests will be faithful to their mission, that each day they will renew their “yes” to Christ and be a sign of his love for every person. We also ask the Lord, on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to inspire generous souls who are ready to dedicate themselves totally to the service of God's kingdom.


Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, to you we entrust our brothers who are ordained today. With them I entrust the priests of Rome and of the whole world. Mother of Christ and of priests, accompany these sons of yours in their ministry and in their lives





Sunday, 25 april 1999


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. The Holy Mass at which I had the joy of conferring priestly ordination on 31 deacons from the Diocese of Rome ended a few moments ago in St Peter's Basilica. These new priests are a great gift to the Roman ecclesial community and the universal Church. Let us thank the Lord and pray that the newly ordained, who come from various countries, will be faithful to God who has called them to the service of the altar.


2. Today's inspiring celebration occurs on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, whose theme this year is: “The Father calls to eternal life”. How important for human salvation are vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life! God continues to show himself a Father through individuals who bear witness in word and deed to their unlimited dedication to serving their brethren, sometimes even to the point of martyrdom (cf. Message for the 36th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Introduction).


Jesus the Good Shepherd, who came so that the world might have life and have it abundantly (cf. John 10:10), is a model for every priest. The boundless horizons of the new evangelization unfold before the eyes of the Good Shepherd. The Fourth International Priests' Meeting, organized by the Congregation for the Clergy and to be held in the Holy Land from 22 to 27 of June, will be an excellent occasion for priests from all countries to walk together towards the Great Jubilee and to enter the new millennium with renewed fidelity and an ardent missionary spirit. I assure you of my prayers for the success of this meeting, which I hope will be well attended by priests from various countries on the different continents.

3. Let us entrust to Mary, beloved daughter of the Father and model of every generous response to the divine call, the prayers which the whole Church is offering today for vocations. In particular, let us invoke her motherly protection upon the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, upon all who will receive priestly ordination this year and upon those who will embrace the consecrated life.

May the Blessed Virgin help parents to understand the value of vocations of special consecration and to foster their growth with prayer and by their own example. As we turn our gaze to the third millennium, the Lord Jesus' words ring out more clearly than ever: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!” (Matthew 9:37-38). May the Mother of the Church sustain our prayer!




After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father said:


In view of the great suffering in today's world, particularly that caused by war, the need to spread and bear practical witness to the Gospel of charity becomes ever more urgent. This is the context for the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, which I will have the joy to preside at on Sunday, 16 May. Many witnesses of charity will participate and I will celebrate a solemn Eucharist for them in St Peter's Square. It will be an important occasion to express the Church's encouragement to those who devote themselves to their brothers and sisters in need and who are working to build a future of genuine peace in a society of greater brotherhood and solidarity.






Sunday, 21 April 2002


1. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate" [The Italian version says: "Live the mystery that is placed in your hands"] (Rite for the Ordination of Priests).


Dear Deacons, when I present to you the paten and chalice for the Eucharistic sacrifice, I will address these words to each of you. You, who are going to be ordained priests, know that the congregation here present with you in St Peter's Basilica looks upon you with great affection. The entire Diocese of Rome is praying with you and for you as do the communites you belong to.

I, too, greet you warmly as I thank God for the gift of your priesthood. At the same time, I express deep gratitude to those who have guided your formation, to your families and to all who have helped you to respond generously to the Lord's call. I am sure they will continue to be close to you, so that you may persevere in the priestly ministry and be able to bring to completion the mission that the Lord entrusts to you.


2. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate". What else is this mystery but the Holy Eucharist? For "in it is contained all the spiritual wealth of the Church" (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5). The mystery is Christ, Bread of life, who gave himself "for the life of the world" (John 6,51). The mystery is Christ, the shepherd and the door of the sheep, "who came that they [human beings] may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10,10).


"Good Shepherd, true Bread of life!", the Christian people sing before the Blessed Sacrament, recognizing and adoring the real presence of Jesus, their guide and their nourishment on the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Dear friends! You are already ordained ministers of the mystery that is Christ, Bread of life and Good Shepherd, as deacons of the holy Church of God. But today, through the grace of the sacrament that you are going to receive, you will be ordained ministers in a new and excellent way.

The special character that the Holy Spirit will imprint upon you will configure you to Christ the Priest, so that in the most important actions of your ministry you will act in the name and in the person of Christ the Head: "in persona Christi Capitis" (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 2). Great is the gift that you receive, and great is the mystery placed in your hands!

3. Jesus not only makes you sharers in the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but he expects an even higher fidelity consistent with the apostolic ministry that is entrusted to you. He calls you to remain with him (cf. Mark 3:14) in privileged intimacy. He demands a stricter poverty of you (cf. Matthew 19:22-23) and the humility of the servant who makes himself the last of all (cf. Matthew 20:25-27). He asks you to be perfect, "as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5,48). In a word, the Lord wants you to be holy. Holiness is the perspective in which the Church's entire pastoral life must be placed (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 30).


"The vocation to holiness" is the theme for the Day of Prayer for Vocations that is being observed today throughout the world. "Every vocation in the Church is at the service of holiness", I wrote in the Message for today's observance. "Some however, such as the vocations to the ordained ministry and consecrated life, are at the service of holiness in a thoroughly unique manner" (n. 2, L'Osservatore Romano, 5 December 2001, p. 3).

4. "Imitate the mystery you celebrate". Another important aspect of the mystery whose ministers you are about to become is the sacrament of Reconciliation, closely connected with the Eucharist. In my Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, which today I consign to you spiritually, I dwelt upon this sacrament.


Dear candidates to the priesthood, be holy ministers of the divine mercy. Experience for yourselves the wonderful grace of reconciliation as a profound necessity and a longed-for gift. Thus, you will restore vigour and enthusiasm to your journey of holiness and to your ministry. God counts on the faithful availability of each of you to work extraordinary miracles of love in the hearts of the faithful. At the fount of reconciliation, of which you must be generous and faithful dispensers, the baptized will be able to have the living and consoling experience of Christ the Good Shepherd, who rejoices over every sheep that is lost and found.


Prepare carefully for this ministry! It requires adequate and constant spiritual, theological, liturgical and pastoral formation. The wisdom and example of the saints will be of great help to you.

"Behold, your mother!" (John 19:27). At this crucial moment of your life, I wish to entrust each of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, Mother of priests. Before he died, Christ entrusted her, as his most precious treasure, to all his disciples in the person of the Apostle John. The Apostle took her into his own home.


Dear candidates to the priesthood, accept her as a sure and consoling pledge of Christ's love. Look to her constantly as the image and model of the Church, whom you will serve with all your energy.


Your priesthood, offered daily to Mary, will become a genuine path of holiness and your whole life will be joyfully consecrated to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

So may it be for each of you, with God's help! Amen!






Sunday, 21 April 2002 


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. This morning, in St Peter's Basilica, I ordained twenty new priests for the Diocese of Rome. I renew my warmest best wishes to them and to their parents and relatives, and those who are with them on this unique and unforgettable day. Dear new priests, if the young are the hope of the Church, how much more so are you young priests. This is why I direct to you, above all, the words that are the well known theme of World Youth Day:  "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5,13).


2. Following an important custom, today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, we observe the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This Sunday is called "Good Shepherd" Sunday because in the Gospel Jesus applies to himself this touching Biblical title. With our eyes fixed on him, I pray for all the priests who were or will be ordained during this year, so that they will give a valid witness to the Good Shepherd with their holiness of life and their ministry. I ask all to offer a common prayer to God, especially on this day, so that the People of God will be enriched with many and holy vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life.

3. Our prayer continues with great insistence for the situation in the Holy Land about which unfortunately we continually receive worrisome news and images of destruction. They are images that are more powerful than any appeal and oblige everyone to leave nothing untried at every level so that the land, blessed by God, may be rescued as soon as possible from the spiral of hatred and violence.

Every day I go to Bethlehem spiritually, to the
Basilica of the Nativity, where I experienced unforgettable moments during my Jubilee pilgrimage. For almost 20 days, the Basilica and adjacent buildings have been the scene of clashes, threats and unbearable exchanges of accusations. May that place, and all the holy places, be restored quickly to prayer and the pilgrims, to God and to the human person.


May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain for the parties in conflict the courage of peace and for the international community an unyielding solidarity. May Israelis and Palestinians be able to learn to live together and may the Holy Land finally return to being a sacred land and a land of peace.



Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us. 




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18 May 2014