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World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2003

Fourth Sunday of Easter, 11 May 2003

Theme: The Vocation to Service

Blessed John Paul II's words at the Regina Caeli in St Peter's Square
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today we are celebrating the 40th World Day of Prayer for Vocations that has as its theme: "Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased (Mt 12: 18; cf. Is 42: 1-4). On this important occasion, I have had the joy this morning of ordaining 31 new Priests. Let us thank God for this precious gift to the Church and to the world! I renew my heartfelt greeting to the newly Ordained, and cordially extend it to their relatives and friends, and all who were in charge of their formation.

Let us pray that these new priests, and all the priests of the world, may be ever more closely conformed to Christ, Servant of the Lord, who came not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt 20: 28).

2. I am delighted to address a special greeting to the many young people gathered in the Cathedral of Chieti, where the national celebration of the Day for Vocations is taking place.

Dear friends, by virtue of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian is called to be a Gospel witness. However, God has always invited some, with a special vocation, to make an even more complete gift of themselves for the cause of the Kingdom. He has certainly turned his gaze also upon the young men and women of today. I urge all who hear his voice resounding in their hearts to give their own generous "yes" to him and then to nourish it daily in prayer, remaining united to Christ like branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15: 5).

My thought also goes to the girls and boys of the schools in Rome who took part this morning in the Spring Marathon - School Celebration. I address an affectionate greeting to you too, dear friends, and to your parents, teachers and professors. May today's celebration help us to understand better the importance of the role that school can play in teaching children to respond generously to God, who calls them to the service of their brothers and sisters.

3. The Virgin Mary is a model of prompt and total allegiance to the divine will. In saying her "Behold", she describes herself as "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1: 38) and made herself fully available to the design of salvation. Let us therefore turn confidently to the Mother of every vocation, praying in particular for all those who received priestly Ordination today."

After the Regina Caeli:

[in Spanish] "Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, de modo particular a los grupos de la parroquia de Corpus Christi de Sevilla, Santiago el Mayor de Alcalá de Guadaira y Nuestra Señora de la Oliva de Lebrija. Que en esta Jornada Mundial de Oración por las Vocaciones, Jesús, el Buen Pastor, por la intercesión de la Virgen María, aliente vuestro camino y aumente el numero de obreros que trabajen en su mies.

[in Portuguese] "É-me grato também saudar agora os estimados irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa, mormente os peregrinos do Patriarcado de Lisboa, Brandoa, Arroio e Olivais do Sul, presentes nesta homenagem filial à Virgem Maria.

Seguindo os passos da liturgia de hoje, peçamos a Cristo, nosso "Bom Pastor", para que reúna numa só família, sem barreiras de qualquer espécie, todos os filhos de Deus, que andam dispersos. Com estes votos, dou-vos de coração a minha Bênção Apostólica.

[Greeting in Latin to a group of Dutch students] "Collegii Corderiani discipulos eorumque magistrum Ioannem Biermans, qui huc venerunt ex urbe Neerlandica Amersfoort, magna cum benevolentia salutamus. Pietatem vestram, carissimi, libenter agnoscimus, quam prope Sancti Petri ac Pauli monumenta confirmare cupitis, etiam reverentiam erga Nos manifestam declarantes. Caelestia beneficia vobis exoptamus, dum studiorum cursum prosperrimum ominamur ac christianae vitae robur adprecamur."

[Traduzione italiana del saluto pronunciato in lingua polacca] "Oggi insieme a tutta la Polonia ci rechiamo in pellegrinaggio alla tomba di san Stanislao a Cracovia, 750 anni dopo la sua canonizzazione ad Assisi. A san Stanislao, Patrono della Polonia, raccomandiamo tutti i problemi della nostra Patria. Dio benedica tutti.

[in Italian] "Saluto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare il gruppo parrocchiale di Villa d’Almè (Bergamo),

A tutti auguro una buona domenica e una buona settimana."

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