On the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis conferred priestly ordination to nineteen deacons: thirteen from the Roman diocesan seminaries (Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, “Redemptoris Mater” Diocesan College, Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love) and six from other colleges. The Mass was concelebrated by the Holy Father and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, vicegerent, the auxiliary bishops, the superiors of the seminaries involved, and the deacons’ parish priests.
During the liturgy of ordination, the Pope pronounced the homily for this rite, improvising some paragraphs. “These sons of ours are called to the order of the presbytery. It is good for us to reflect a little on the ministry to which they will be elevated within the Church. As you well know, the Lord Jesus is the sole Supreme Priest of the New Testament, but in Him also all the holy people of God is constituted as a priestly people. All of us! Nonetheless, among all His disciples, Jesus wishes to choose some in particular to publicly exercise priestly office on behalf of all mankind, thus continuing His personal mission as teacher, priest and pastor. … They have reflected on this, their vocation, and now they are to receive the ordination to the priesthood. And the bishop risks – risks! – and chooses them, just as the Father risked for each one of us”.
“And to you, who are about to be raised to the order of the presbytery, consider that by exercising the ministry of the Holy Doctrine you will participate in the mission of Christ, the sole master. Dispense to all that Word of God, that you yourselves have received with joy. Read and meditate diligently on the Word of the Lord so as to believe in what you have read, to teach what you have learnt in faith, to live what you have taught. And may this be the nourishment of the People of God; may your homilies never be dull; may your homilies arrive straight to the heart of the people as they come from your heart: what you say to them is what you have in your heart. In this way one offers the Word of the Lord, and in this way your doctrine will be joy and sustenance to Christ’s faithful; the aroma of your life will be witness, as example edifies, whereas words without example are empty. They are ideas that never reach the heart and may even do harm; they do not do good”.
“When you celebrate Mass, acknowledge then what you are doing. Do not be hasty! Imitate what you celebrate – it is not an artificial rite. … With Baptism, you will add new faithful to the People of God. You must never refuse Baptism to those who ask for it. With the Sacrament of Penance you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and of the Church. And I, in the name of the Jesus Christ, the Lord, and His spouse, the Holy Church, I ask you never to tire of being merciful. You will be in the confessional to forgive, not to condemn! Imitate the Father, Who never tires of forgiving. With the holy oils you will bring relief to the sick. By celebrating the holy rites and raise at the different times of the day the prayers of praise and supplication, you will become the voice of the People of God and of the whole of humanity. Aware of having been chosen among men and constituted for their benefit to attend to matters of God, exercise Christ’s priestly work with joy and sincere charity, intent solely on pleasing God and not yourselves. A priest who lives to please himself, who acts like a peacock, is unpleasant”.
“Finally, participating in Christ’s mission as Head and Pastor in filial communion with your bishop, make efforts to unite the faithful in a single family – you are ministers of unity in the Church and in the family – to lead them to God the Father by means of Christ in the Holy Spirit”, he concluded, adding. “and always keep before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, Who did not come to be served, but to serve; not to remain in comfort, but to reach out to seek and save what was lost”.