ROME, JUNE 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Year for Priests that concluded Friday should be a new stimulus for priests to embrace a missionary spirit, and for young men to say “yes” to the vocation, according to one Vatican official.
Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, told Vatican Radio on Saturday that the Year for Priests was “positive, very positive.”
“Above all we are also happy that it was celebrated in local communities as well,” he said. “This was done all over the world. I think that it has been a great year!”
The prelate encouraged priests “to continue to be this very important, precious and irreplaceable presbyteral body of ministers in the whole world, above all where they are in local communities.”
He told them to go forward “with courage and confidence, with joy in giving themselves to the tasks of priestly ministry, reflecting on and always being more profoundly aware of their priestly identity: what it means to be a priest and what is truly necessary to cultivate this vocation and mission, namely, spirituality.”
The cardinal said that spirituality must be constantly deepened and that prayer cannot be missing.
With prayer and spirituality, the Vatican official said, the priest “can truly live his vocation and mission with joy and with certainty and with serenity.”
“The second thing that I really have in my heart to tell priests,” Cardinal Hummes said, “is to reawaken their missionary spirit: to not limit themselves to being ‘at the service’ of the community in which they live, which already exists. But that they also have a great missionary task to go to the people where the people are, above all to the baptized who have left for many reasons but also to the many who do not know Jesus Christ.”
The prelate said this mission is “very urgent” today.
“This will even help the priests themselves to rediscover their priestly identity, because missionary activity constantly renews their identity,” he added.
The prefect had a final word for young men who feel called to the priesthood.
“I would like to tell you to have the courage to answer ‘yes,’” he said, “because being a priest is worthwhile, even though there are many things in the world today that would say the contrary, that do say the contrary!”
The cardinal continued: “But all of us who are priests know how important this is, how much this is also a sign of predilection and a choice on God’s part, when he calls a young man: Accept this vocation.”
“I would like to say to those who have the courage to do it: They will feel grateful to God for the predilection with which God calls them.”