Pope Ordains 34 Priests in St. Peter´s

Including 11 of the Neocatechumenal Way

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II marked the 20th anniversary of the attempt on his life by ordaining 34 priests, whom he then entrusted to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima.

The new priests were from four seminaries of the Diocese of Rome and two religious communities of diocesan right.

At the beginning of the rite, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for Rome, greeted the Holy Father with a moving remembrance of May 13, 1981, the day that Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca shot and seriously wounded the Pontiff.

«This May 13 is truly special: Your Holiness can understand its significance better than anyone can,» the cardinal said. Today is also the anniversary of the first of the 1917 apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal.

During the homily, John Paul II addressed the new priests using the language of his apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte.»

«It is given to you to guide the steps of the Christian people with generous dedication, especially keeping in mind two great ambits of pastoral commitment: ´to begin again with Christ´ and ´to be witnesses of love,´» the Pope said.

He added: «Above all, be in love with the Church, the earthly and heavenly Church, looking at her with faith and love, despite the stains and wrinkles that might mark her human face.»

The Holy Father also used the occasion to offer advice on strategies to deal with the vocations crisis. «It is about increasingly inspiring and cultivating a ´vocational mentality´ that is translated into a personal and communal style characterized by listening, discernment and a generous response to God who calls,» the Pope said.

Most the new priests will be assigned to Roman parishes. Eleven of the new priests were prepared in the «Redemptoris Mater» diocesan seminary, founded by the Neocatechumenal Way, a spiritual renewal movement founded in Spain in 1964. These priests, whose average age is 30, are from India, Uruguay, France, Zambia, Chile, Spain, El Salvador, Venezuela, Honduras and Italy.

«It wasn´t easy to say yes to the Lord,» said Spaniard Miguel Chiner, one of the new priests. «When I was concentrated on my plans, the Lord gave me the grace to open up through the Neocatechumenal Way. He entered my heart and gave me free, unmerited gifts that I never knew before, which have marked me profoundly.»

Ivin Arokiasatny of India also spoke about his vocation. «I felt the Lord´s call during a pilgrimage to Bombay,» he said. «I was already in the Neocatechumenal Way. … I have been on mission in Ethiopia and Nicaragua; I have seen places of suffering. It was an experience that helped me a lot and that continues to help me now, when I meet with parishioners … who live in suffering.»

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