PREPARED TEXT: Pope's Address to Clergy, Religious, Seminarians, in Kenya

«I ask all of you to cherish your vocation as a gift from God and to keep ever alive the flame of your zeal.»

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Below is the prepared text of Pope Francis’ speech during his meeting with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians, at the athletic field of St. Mary’s School. He did not deliver this text, choosing instead to speak off-the-cuff.


V./ Tumsifu Yesu Kristu! (Praised be Jesus Christ!)

R./ (Milele na Milele. Amina.) (Now and forever. Amen.)

My Brother Priests,

Brothers and Sisters of Consecrated Life,

Dear Seminarians,

I am very happy to be with you, to see the joy on your faces and to listen to your words and your songs of happiness and hope. I thank Bishop Mukobo, Father Phiri and Sister Michael Marie for their words of welcome on your behalf. I also thank the Felician Sisters for their hospitality today.

Before all else, I thank you for the active contribution made to the Church and to Kenyan society by so many consecrated persons, and priests. I ask you to bring my affectionate greeting to your brothers and sisters who could not be with us today, and especially to the elderly and infirm of your communities.

“May God who began a good work in you bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus!” (Phil 1:6). This afternoon I would like to make my own this heartfelt prayer of the Apostle Paul, with gratitude for your faithful service to the Lord in the midst of his people.

Every day, moving in hospitals and at homes among the sick, the suffering, the poor and the marginalized, you proclaim the loving mercy and compassion of God. In parishes, schools and educational institutions, you work to educate the young as Christians and as upright citizens. These efforts are well spent. You help to build the spiritual and moral life of society on the strong foundations of honesty, justice, solidarity and the responsible use of freedom. In a special way, you serve as living signs of the Church’s communion, which embraces all people and languages, excludes no one, and seeks the salvation of all.

I ask all of you to cherish your vocation as a gift from God and to keep ever alive the flame of your zeal. This encouragement goes in a special way to the men and women religious and the consecrated persons present. Your young hearts were set afire by the beauty of a life lived in the footsteps of Christ, dedicated to God and to your neighbour. By daily renewing your “yes” to the Lord’s call to follow him in the evangelical chastity, poverty and obedience, you give him all that you have, all that you are. Although we live and exercise our apostolate in the world, our hearts must be centred on heaven. Let prayer, personal, liturgical and communal, be the heart of your day. Here I would like to thank the cloistered religious for their hidden apostolate which contributes so much to the fruitfulness of the Church’s mission in this country.

Dear brother priests, your own vocation calls you, in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd, to go out to seek the poor, the sick, those in need of God’s mercy. This is the source of our joy, to be heralds and ministers of his compassion and love to all, without distinction. Amid the many duties and distractions of the pastoral ministry, prayer, priestly fraternity, union of mind and heart with your bishops, and frequent recourse to the grace of the sacrament of Penance, must be your source of strength and a bulwark against the subtle temptation of a spiritual worldliness. The Lord calls us to be ministers of his grace despite our limitations and weaknesses. As our eternal high priest, who was made perfect through suffering (Heb 2:10), he will strengthen your witness to the transforming power of his cross and the joy of his eternal victory.

Dear young seminarians, you too are very close to my heart! These years of preparation and discernment are a grace-filled time when you become convinced of God’s will for your lives. On your part, this calls for honesty, self-knowledge and purity of intention; it must also be sustained by personal prayer, inner freedom from self-seeking or undue attachments. Above all, this should be a time of spiritual joy, the joy which wells up in a heart which is open to God’s voice and humbly prepared to sacrifice everything for the service of his holy people.

Dear friends, the Gospel we preach and strive to live is not an easy path; it is narrow, but it fills the heart with untold joy. Once again I echo the Apostle in assuring you that “I pray always with joy for all of you” (Phil 1:4). I ask you to pray for me, and I commend you all to the surpassing love which we have known in Christ Jesus. To all of you, with great affection, I impart my blessing.

Mungu awabariki! (God bless you!)

[Original text: Italian] [Translation provided by Vatican]
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