ROME, MAY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Opus Dei welcomed 30 more priests to its personal prelature Saturday, ordained by their prelate, Bishop Javier Echavarría, who encouraged them to guide the faithful on the path of eternal life.
The newly ordained come from 12 nations, including China, the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Brazil.
“Starting today, conformed to Christ the Head of the Church, they will be able to carry out the priestly ministry: preaching the Word of God with authority, administering the sacraments, above all the sacrament of penance and the Eucharist, and guiding the Christian people along the paths of eternal life,” the bishop said in his homily.
Noting the common call to holiness shared by all the faithful, Bishop Echavarría added that “it is undeniable that priests are particularly obliged to be holy.” Citing the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá, the prelate added, “I remind you that ‘the priestly vocation brings with it the need for sanctity. This sanctity is not just any sanctity, a common sanctity, nor is it even an excellent sanctity. It is a matter of heroic sanctity.'”
Bishop Echavarría also referred to the upcoming Year for Priests, convoked by Benedict XVI from June 19 of this year through June 19, 2010.
“The Holy Father […] has wanted to make the Christian people aware of the need for many holy priests,” he said. “We are all asked to offer prayers and mortifications for the sanctity of priests during these months.”
Ready to serve
Some of the newly ordained offered their testimony for the Opus Dei Web site, explaining how they discovered their call to the priesthood.
Father Sebastián Ramos Mejía, 35, of Argentina, said he realized while working in a school that he wanted to be a priest, so as to be able to offer spiritual assistance to the students.
“All of us need a person who helps us, encourages us, opens horizons for us, makes us see that God trusts in us more than we trust in ourselves,” Father Ramos Mejía said. “Now as a priest, this idea motivates me a lot and offers me consolation. To know that if I put forth a little effort and seek the grace of God, I am going to be able to overcome the difficulties that come up and transmit this idea to many people.”
Father Abdoulaye Sissoko of the Ivory Coast recounted his story, coming from a family with a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. He said he wants to live his priestly ministry with “24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year availability, to serve souls with the sacraments of the Eucharist and confession.”
The new priest recalled Benedict XVI’s visit in March to his continent, saying “that the Pope has encouraged Africans to make our continent progress.” Father Sissoko affirmed that he wants to work “helping my brothers to love Africa, but above all to love God more.”
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On the Net:
Complete text of homily and testimonies from eight of the newly ordained: www.opusdei.us/art.php?p=33924