Pope Benedict XVI marked Sunday’s 44th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations by conferring priestly ordination on 22 men from the Diocese of Rome. He told the new priests that their newly received sacrament makes them “participants in Christ’s own mission.”
In his homily, the Pope used the well-known Gospel story of the Good Shepherd, to emphasize the missions of the priests. Their group included graduates from the Major Roman Seminary, the "Redemptoris Mater" College, the Seminary of Divine Love, the "Almo Collegio Capranica," and the Seminary of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, respectively,
"Christ," the Holy Father said, "knows His sheep and His sheep know Him, just as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father.”
“This”, he assured the priests, “is not merely intellectual knowledge but a profound personal relationship; a knowledge of the heart typical of those who love and are loved, of those who are faithful and who know that, in turn, they can trust. It is a knowledge of love by virtue of which the Shepherd invites His followers to follow Him, and that finds full expression in the gift He gives them of eternal life."
The Pope explained to the new priests that "The Sacrament of Holy Orders makes you participants in Christ's own mission. You will be called to spread the seed of His Word, the seed that brings people to the Kingdom of God, to dispense divine mercy and to nourish the faithful at the table of His Body and His Blood.”
“In order to be worthy ministers”, he stressed, “you must constantly nourish yourselves from the Eucharist, source and summit of Christian life.”
Pope Benedict further charged the men to "listen to [God] meekly…follow Him faithfully…[and] learn to translate His love and His passion for the salvation of souls into life and pastoral ministry. Each of you will become, with Jesus' help, a good shepherd ready to give, if necessary, even your lives for Him."
As the pope concluded his homily, he expressed his prayer "that in all parishes and Christian communities concern for vocations and the formation of priests may grow."
He likewise charged the newly-ordained priests "to be faithful to the mission to which the Lord calls them today, and to be ready to renew every day their 'yes ' to God, their unreserved 'here I am.'”