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Saturday, 17 March 1973


Beloved sons,

It is always a great pleasure for us to receive young priests and to be able to speak to them words of encouragement and challenge. It is a special joy for us today on this feast to receive the newly-ordained priests from Saint Patrick’s College in Rome. We wish to tell you first of all of our affection for you in Christ Jesus. For us you are a sign of the Church’s vitality, a proof that the Lord’s grace is active and victorious in this age of the Church, as in every period of the past. By your vocation you show the primacy of the supernatural and through your abnegation, sacrifice and fervour you give eloquent expression in a concrete way to the Church’s task of being ready to meet the Lord when he comes again. We praise the providence of God that has brought you to this day.

It is our hope and our intention to confirm you in the faith and zeal that is yours as you begin your priestly ministry of service. We also wish to confirm you in your generosity and fidelity and to assure you of their value and importance.

If you are ever tempted to think that your vocation-your individual vocation as a priest-is not important, then recall Saint Patrick and our words today: how the salvation history and destiny of an entire people-your own-could, in the plan of God, be linked with the zeal and generosity, the fidelity and perseverance of one man, who followed his divine calling and with great personal responsibility exercised his ministry within the communion of the Church. Yes, dear sons, you are called to this responsibility of a ministry which is to be exercised within the communion of Christ’s Church.

Through your ministry, sustained by grace and made fruitful in the Holy Spirit, you must lead men to Christ and, through him, to the Father. It is the Lord Jesus who has called you. The Church sends you forth. The Pope blesses you. And on this joyous occasion we extend our greetings and good wishes to your families and in particular to your parents, who have loved you, prayed for you and sustained you. To all of you we impart our Apostolic Blessing.


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