Pope to Vocations Group: Keep Praying


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VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is urging the congregation founded by St. Annibale Maria di Francia to keep his spirit of prayer for vocations.

The Pope made this appeal in a message sent to the 11th General Chapter of the Rogationist Fathers, which began Monday in Rome.

St. Annibale (1851-1927) was a Sicilian priest convinced of the need to "ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest," as the Gospel recommends.

Wednesday, the Holy Father blessed a statue of the saint, which was unveiled in one of the exterior niches of St. Peter's.

In his message to St. Annibale's spiritual sons, the Pontiff noted how the saint "loved Christ intensely, and was always inspired by him in carrying out a prudent vocational apostolate as well as courageous work in favor of his needy neighbors."

"Follow his example," the Pope told the religious, "and joyfully continue his mission, still valid today, even though the social conditions in which we live have changed. In particular, spread ever more the spirit of prayer and of solicitude for all vocations in the Church; be eager laborers for the coming of the Kingdom of God, dedicating yourselves with every energy to evangelization and human development."

Benedict XVI noted the congregation's apostolate, directed to the "vast horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to witness the evangelical message to all, without distinction."

"Such an urgent mission requires incessant personal and community conversion," he said. "Only hearts totally open to the action of grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to receive the appeals of humanity in need of hope and peace."

The Pope invoked Mary as "queen of vocations and mother of priests" to protect and help the Rogationist Fathers, praying she will be the "sure guide on the path of your religious family."