VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2004 ( In the era of the global village, it is more important than ever to pray for vocations to the consecrated life, says John Paul II.

The Pope made that point in a message to the general chapter of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus, being held following the May 16 canonization of their founder, St. Annibale Maria di Francia (1851-1927).

The congregation arose in 1926. Its charism is to live and propagate Jesus' command to pray for vocations, and to serve the poorest, especially in mission lands. The Rogationists now number 360 and work in several countries.

"This mission is more timely than ever at the beginning of the third millennium and it calls for good and industrious apostles, and you must be and want to be the first," the Holy Father said in his message.

"The global village into which the planet has been transformed, thanks to the network of communications and of political, economic and social interests often in conflict among themselves, registers a very urgent need of laborers of reconciliation, witnesses of the saving Truth, and builders of the one true and lasting peace, based on justice and forgiveness," the Pope explained.

"If we then look into the depth of hearts, the desire and expectation of life that comes from on High are revealed to be even more ample and profound," he continued.

"In the face of such great urgencies, our strength is unequal" to the task, the papal message acknowledged.

John Paul II said that "the bread of justice and peace can only come from on High: This is why the need found at the root of all needs is that of 'laborers' about whom Jesus speaks."

What is needed, the Pope said, are "men and women who spare no energy to transmit the Word of life to the world, calling hearts to conversion, offering the divine gift of Grace to build bridges of solidarity and conditions of justice, in which the full dignity of all human existence can be expressed."

"Prayer is the fertile root and indispensable nourishment of all action that intends to be effective for the Kingdom of God," he said. "By praying, laborers can be obtained from the Lord who will plow the field, sow the seed, watch over its growth, and harvest the fruit of ripe ears."