VATICAN CITY, APRIL 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to the Christian community to pray for vocations to the priesthood, and asked priests to promote the consecrated life, especially through “personal commitment.”
The Pope made this appeal in his traditional Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, presented to the press today by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.
“Quite rightly, then, the Christian people gives thanks to God for the gift of the Eucharist and the priesthood, while praying unceasingly that priests will never be lacking in the Church,” the Holy Father states in his letter.
“The number of priests is never sufficient to meet the constantly increasing demands of evangelization and the pastoral care of the faithful,” he writes.
“In some places of the world, the shortage of priests is all the more urgently felt since today the number of priests is dwindling without sufficient replacements from the younger generation. In other places, thank God, we see a promising springtime of vocations,” the Pope says.
“There is also a growing awareness among the People of God of the need to pray and work actively to promote vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life,” he observes.
However, John Paul II says that the first initiative that must be evident in the promotion of vocations is the “personal commitment” of the priests themselves.
“Our personal commitment to Christ, our love for the Eucharist, our fervor in celebrating it, our devotion in adoring it, and our zeal in offering it to our brothers and sisters, especially to the sick,” is decisive, he says.
“Priests in love with the Eucharist are capable of communicating to children and young people that ‘Eucharistic amazement’ which I have sought to rekindle with my encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” published last year, the Pope states.
He adds: “Generally, these are the priests who lead them to the path of the priesthood, as the history of our own vocations might easily show.”