Cardinal Fernando Filoni says priests must always remember priesthood is a way of life, which requires giving one's entire self for others, being always tied to prayer, and being charitable.

During an encounter with Vietnamese priests, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said,  "As priests and those responsible for the Church in Vietnam, you are called to be “salt and light” in this society,” reported Fides.

This meeting with priests was part of the Italian prelate’s pastoral visit to Vietnam this week, which included him meeting Tuesday in Hà Nội with members of the nation’s bishops’ conference.

Reflecting on the virtuous example of the priest St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his 126 fellow martyrs, the cardinal told the priests: "Imitate your heroic predecessor martyrs and be worthy to be their successors.'

The theme of evangelization, Cardinal Filoni underscored, is still relevant and will always be present.

The Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he said, "must be the point of reference for the Church of Vietnam, which is called concomitantly to a path of conversion and to a strong commitment to evangelization."

Cardinal Filoni spoke of the spiritual life, stressing that "priesthood is not a job or a bureaucratic office that you can play at a time and that's it ... The priest is 'a way of life' and not a job."

"To fully live out the priestly identity," he said, "the spiritual life of the priest must be tied to prayer, to listening to the Word of God." 

The prelate reaffirmed the importance of priestly celibacy and the fraternal relationship with brother priests and their bishop.

Focusing on the pastoral life, he said: "In order to dedicate our entire lives and all that we have to the service of the Church, we need to have the pastoral charity of Jesus, Who has given His life for the flock." 

"We must imitate Jesus in His gift of Self and in His service," he said, noting this requires reaching out to the poor, marginalized, little ones, the sick, sinners, and unbelievers. 

In large cities, the Italian cardinal also stressed, attention must be focused on immigrants and to those living in various forms of slavery.