Address on World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Pope Exhorts Those Who Have Heard God’s Call

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2003 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Today we celebrate the 40th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, whose theme is: «Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased» (Matthew 12:18; see Isaiah 42:1-4). On this significant occasion, I had the joy of ordaining this morning 31 new priests. Let us thank God for such a precious gift to the Church and to the world! I renew my cordial greeting to the ordained and extend it sincerely to their relatives and friends, and to those who were involved in their formation.

Let us pray so that these new priests, and all priests worldwide, will be ever more conformed to Christ, the Servant of the Lord, who came not to be served but to serve (see Matthew 20:28).

2. I am happy to send special greetings to the numerous young people gathered in the Cathedral of Chieti, where the national celebration of the Day for Vocations is taking place.

Beloved, in virtue of baptism and confirmation, every Christian is called to be a witness of the Gospel. However, with a special vocation, God has always invited some to a more complete giving of themselves in the cause of the Kingdom. He has certainly looked upon the young men and women of today also. I exhort all those who have felt his voice resound in their hearts to say their very generous «yes» and then to nourish it, day after day, in prayer, remaining united to Christ like the shoots of the vine (see John 15:5).

My thoughts turn, moreover, to the boys and girls of the schools of Rome, who this morning took part in the Spring Marathon/School Festival. My affectionate greetings to you too, beloved, and to your parents, teachers and professors. May today’s event help us to understand better the important role the school can play in educating youngsters to respond generously to God, who calls them to the service of their brothers.

3. The Virgin Mary is the model of prompt and total adherence to the divine will. When pronouncing her «behold,» she described herself as «the handmaid of the Lord» (Luke 1:38) and showed herself totally disposed to the plan of salvation. Therefore, we turn with trust to the Mother of every vocation, praying in particular for all those who received priestly ordination today.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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