VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2004 ( John Paul II proposes two ways to foment vocations to the consecrated life: the prayer of the whole Church and the witness of consecrated persons themselves.

The Pope made these suggestions in his Message for the 2004 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be observed this Sunday.

"My heartfelt wish is that prayer for vocations be intensified ever more; prayer that is adoration of the mystery of God and thanksgiving for the 'great things' that he has accomplished and does not cease to carry out, despite human weakness," the Holy Father says in his message. "Contemplative prayer is pervaded with wonder and gratitude for the gift of vocations."

"I acknowledge with joy that in many particular Churches, cenacles of prayer for vocations are being formed," he writes. "In the major seminaries and in houses of formation of religious and missionary institutes, gatherings are held for this purpose. Numerous families become little 'cenacles' of prayer, helping young people to answer the Divine Master's call with courage and generosity."

The Holy Father continues: "Many sick people throughout the world unite their sufferings to the Cross of Christ, imploring for holy vocations. They accompany me spiritually as well, in the Petrine ministry that God has entrusted to me, and offer to the cause of the Gospel a precious contribution, even if it is often completely hidden."

In addition to prayer, John Paul II says that the "strength of the witness given by those called and their ability to involve others and inspire each of them to entrust his or her own life to Christ depends on their holiness."

This "is the way," he concludes, "to counteract the reduction in vocations to the consecrated life which threatens the continuance of many apostolic works, especially in mission countries."