At midday on Sunday, before praying the Regina Coeli with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, during which "all the faithful are invited to pray especially for vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life."
The Holy Father referred to the fact that he had just ordained 22 deacons in the Vatican Basilica and called for all priests to be granted "the gift of perseverance, that they may continue to pray faithfully, to celebrate Mass with ever renewed devotion, to live their lives listening to the Word of God, and that day after day they may assimilate the same feelings and attitudes as Jesus the Good Shepherd.
"We also pray," he added, "for those preparing themselves for the priestly ministry, and for formators in the seminaries of Rome, Italy and the entire world. We pray for families that, in them, the 'seed' of the call to priestly ministry may continue to nurture and ripen."
This year, Pope Benedict continued, the theme of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is "vocation to the service of the Church as communion." All the baptized, he said, "are called to contribute to the work of salvation. In the Church there are, however, a number of vocations especially dedicated to the service of communion. The person primarily responsible for Catholic communion is the Pope, Peter's Successor and Bishop of Rome. Alongside him, custodians and masters of unity are the bishops, successors of the Apostles, assisted by priests. But consecrated persons and all the faithful are also at the service of communion.
"In the heart of the Church as communion," he added in conclusion, "is the Eucharist: the various vocations all draw from this supreme Sacrament the spiritual strength to build the one ecclesial Body."