Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday presided over a Mass of ordination at St. Peter's Basilica, telling the ordinands to spread the Gospel so that all might experience the “joy of Christ.”
Twenty-nine deacons, most of whom are students at Rome's Major seminary in St. John Lateran on the south side of the Tiber, prostrated themselves before Pope Benedict XVI above the tomb of St. Peter, and promised to dedicate their lives to serving the people of God, his Church and the Gospel.
The ordination Mass at St. Peter’s is an annual tradition in which the Pope, in his role as the Bishop of Rome, bestows the sacrament of Holy Orders on men from his own diocese. Included among the 29 were also a Haitian; three young South Americans from Chile, Colombia, and Paraguay; a French deacon; a deacon from Kerala, India; and one deacon from Baghdad in Iraq.
The annual celebration of this sacrament by the Holy Father has become a focal point for many young seminarians worldwide. In his recent trip to the United States, the Holy Father addressed the ideals of the priesthood on several occasions.
Most poignantly, speaking to seminarians and religious at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, Pope Benedict said, "The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons."
He also told young Americans gathered in Yankee Stadium, to open their hearts to “the Lord's call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life."
During Sunday's homily, Pope Benedict spoke to the ordinands regarding the reading from the Acts of the Apostles about the Deacon Philip, reminding them of what it means to be a priest in the service of the Gospel. He said their mission is "to spread the Gospel to all so that all might experience the joy of Christ and there might be joy in every city. What can be more beautiful than this?"
Appearing in the window of his study shortly after the Mass, Pope Benedict told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the annual ordination Mass is a moment of special grace when "renewed sap is infused into the fabric of the Church Community."