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Pope says Eucharist celebration will attract vocations

Pope John Paul II has prayed that the more than 400,000 Catholic priests in the world will never take for granted the mystery and blessing of being able to celebrate the Eucharist.

In promoting vocations to the priesthood, "your own witness counts more than anything else," the pope told priests in his annual Holy Thursday message to them.

The message, which the Vatican released yesterday, focused particularly on how priests can encourage vocations among altar boys by the way they live, pray and celebrate Mass.

"In your hands they see the Eucharist 'take place,' on your face they see its mystery reflected, and in your heart they sense the summons of a great love," the pope wrote.

The Holy Thursday remembrance of Jesus' Last Supper marks the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood, Pope John Paul said. "These two sacraments were born together and their destiny is indissolubly linked until the end of the world."

Jesus called his apostles to follow him and, by extension, "he called by name each and every priest in every time."

Although Christ is present when the faithful gather, the assembly "is not by itself able to celebrate the Eucharist or to provide the ordained minister," because the priest, like the Eucharist, is a gift of God, Pope John Paul said.

All Catholics need to pray for more vocations to the priesthood because they are God's gift.

But priests themselves must cooperate by offering an example to others, particularly to children and young people already involved in parish activities, especially those who serve at the altar.

"What counts is our personal commitment to Christ, our love for the Eucharist, our fervor in celebrating it, our devotion in adoring it and our zeal in offering it to our brothers and sisters, especially to the sick," the pope wrote.

By celebrating Eucharist, priests will attract vocations, pope says (Catholic News Service 6/4/04)

Pope urges priests to inspire vocations by example (Reuters 6/4/04)
Pope Warns of the Pitfalls of Advertising (Zenit 5/4/04)
Costa Rican Leader Has Papal Audience (Zenit 5/4/04)
Text - Bishop Hollis: "I'm not interested in managing decline" (Independent Catholic News 6/4/04)
Pope issues annual letter to world's priests (Catholic World News 6/4/04)
At Last Supper Christ called all priests of all times by name ( 6/4/04)
Some signs of hope during crisis in priesthood ( 6/4/04)

7 Apr 2004