The witness and example of happy and joyful priests and Sisters is one of the most powerful instruments in fostering vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life. So believes our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI expressed in his letter proclaiming the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations celebrated today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Appropriately, this Sunday in the Church year is known as Good Shepherd Sunday because the Gospel proclaims to us the role of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
“Witness Awakens Vocations” is the theme of this year’s World Day of Prayer. “The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations,” says the Holy Father, “depends primarily on God’s free action…yet it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord’s call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life.” The Holy Father said such witness is able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ’s call.
Like the prophets in the Old Testament, these fulfilled Religious, fully engaged in the task that God has entrusted to them, have hearts filled with a “burning fire” to proclaim the Gospel – a fire that cannot be contained. “Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness.”
The Holy Father believes that this World Day of Prayer for Vocations offers many young people “a precious opportunity” to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust and complete openness.”