Receives Members of International Serra Club

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2000 (Zenit.org).-
The fostering of priestly vocations is the task of every baptized person, John Paul II told Jubilee pilgrims of the International Serra Club.

This is an important dimension of «your baptismal calling,» which is «essentially a missionary calling,» the Holy Father explained, recalling the example of Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan who evangelized California and is the inspiration of this organization.

The Serra Club was created 65 years ago in Seattle, Washington. It has 23,000 members in 36 countries, embracing a total of 768 clubs. In most cases, members are professionals and businessmen. Their aim is foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

In the early 1990s, the club spread to Eastern Europe. Last year, centers were inaugurated in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Every year, some 30 new clubs come into existence in different parts of the world. Among the members are Don Keough, retired president of Coca-Cola, and Edward Lundy, vice president of Ford.

When addressing the 2,500 Serrans who were in Rome on Thursday, the Pope referred to Christ´s words «The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few!»

«The horizon of the Lord´s ´harvest´ is indeed limitless, if we consider not only the pastoral needs of the Church herself, but also the immense number of people who still await the first proclamation of the Gospel,» the Pope stressed.

«There is an unexpressed sense of need for Christ rising up from young people, from the world of culture, and from great ethical and social challenges of our time,» John Paul II said. «In order to respond to this need, the whole Church must become completely ministerial, a community of heralds and witnesses, rich in laborers for the harvest.»

Vocations affect the whole of the Church, «Christ´s body,» he said. Therefore, the problem of vocations must not only affect pastors, but must involve everyone, «particularly families and educators,» the Pontiff said. He also exhorted the Serrans to meet the «needs of poor vocations» with «the charity that characterizes you.»

Earlier, the Serrans crossed the Holy Door of St. Peter´s Basilica, in a sign of conversion, and attended a Mass presided over by Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

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