VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2003 ( John Paul II called the Church to be more contemplative, more holy and more missionary, grounding its work on fervent prayer.

In his message for this year's World Mission Sunday, issued today, the Pope emphasized that only in an atmosphere of prayer can the Holy Spirit be received and the faithful become witnesses of Christ.

This year, World Mission Sunday will be observed on Oct. 19. It will coincide with the 25th-anniversary celebrations of the Holy Father's pontificate, the beatification of Mother Teresa, and the closing of the Year of the Rosary.

Traditionally, the papal message is issued at Pentecost. Its publication was moved up this year, so that dioceses worldwide could study it and integrate it in their pastoral programs.

In the text, John Paul II highlighted the urgency to prepare "capable and holy" evangelizers. "The fervor of the apostles must not be allowed to weaken, especially in regard to the mission ad gentes," he writes.

In this connection, if the rosary is rediscovered and fully appreciated, it "is an ordinary yet fruitful pedagogical and spiritual tool to form the People of God to work in the vast field of apostolic action," he says.

John Paul II proposes that the Year of the Rosary be an occasion for "believers on all the continents to deepen the meaning of their Christian vocation."

"Through baptism all believers are called to holiness," the Holy Father says. "Holiness and mission are inseparable aspects of the vocation of every baptized person."

"At the school of the Blessed Virgin and following her example, every community will be better able to have its own 'contemplative' and 'missionary' activity emerge," the Pontiff stresses.

The rosary helps believers to contemplate the face of Christ, which leads to "a deeper, interior familiarity with his mystery," he says.

Moreover, by looking at Mary, "an unequalled model," and following her example, believers will be able to react "to the great problems, the innocent suffering, the injustices perpetrated with arrogant insolence," he says.

World Mission Sunday will be observed in a context in which the Church has more possibilities than ever to proclaim Jesus, "thanks to the development of the means of social communication," John Paul II emphasizes.