Excerpt from Josef Cardinal Tomko's Address to the Seminarians and Staff of College General on 28th. August, 1995

It is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to visit you during my first Pastoral Visitation to your country.....

This evening, after having the privilege of celebrating Mass with you, I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts with you concerning our common vocation - our call to be servants of Jesus Christ as priests. An important word here is SERVANTS, for that is what we are, as priests and ministers of the Church....

If I ask all of you now, "Why are you here in the seminary?", what would you answer? How would you explain your presence here, your studies, and your goal? Are they not a direct response to this special invitation of Jesus? You are here because you have felt this call of Christ. It has stirred your soul. You want to do more than just follow the commandments.  You are here because you have accepted this special invitation of Jesus to devote your whole life  to the service of the Church through the ministerial priesthood.

I would go on to say that this is the road you have chosen to also achieve your personal happiness in this life. Yes, your happiness. One does not take up the call of Christ in order to be unhappy!...
 

A Call to be Good, Holy and Dedicated Priests

With the growing knowledge and dedication of so many lay persons in the Church, the faithful demand good, holy and dedicated pastors ... and this is the goal to which you must dedicate each day of your life!....
 
Called To Mission
 
No longer is it enough for a diocesan priest to be content only with caring for the baptized in his parish. As our Holy Father stated in his Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, "Especially in those areas where Christians are a minority, priests must be filled with a special missionary zeal and commitment. The Lord entrusts to them not only the pastoral care of the Christian community, but also and above all the evangelization of those of their fellow citizens who do not belong to Christ's flock.(RM n.67)..."
 
The Gift Of Celibacy
I said earlier that we are here to live out our call to happiness through the priesthood. Celibacy is an integral part of that call. And we must be very clear about this - anyone who cannot accept this life of total chastity and celibacy will never be happy as a priest. He will be tempted to live  a double life, a life of deceit, where his self-esteem diminishes each day, and where the respect people have for him also decreases.  "The Church, as the Spouse of Jesus Christ, wishes to be loved by the priest in the total and exclusive manner in which Jesus Christ her  Head and Spouse loved her.  Priestly celibacy, then, is the gift of self in and with Christ to his Church and expresses the priest's service to the Church in and with the Lord." (PDV n. 29) it can be everywhere successfully and happily observed with the grace of God.  To succeed in living faithfully this charism, we need to observe it fully now, in the seminary, and then constantly guard it through prudence in our dealings with others while maintaining constant and intimate union with Christ, especially through personal prayer....

Priests Dedicated to the Poor

You men are about to enter into the consecrated service of the Church to the people of Malaysia.  The church here needs dedicated disciples, who are willing to be counter-signs of the consumerism and materialism affecting the world. In the spirit of Jesus, we are particularly called to minister to the poor, and to maintain a spirit of true detachment from worldly goods and comforts which detract you from your true mission...
 

Mary, our help and model
I invite you then to become holy priests, compassionate priests and happy priests. May I conclude now by recommending in a special way your devotion to the Virgin Mary, who is a special help to all priests.  Through her example and intercession, you will grow in a more profound union with her son, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who came to bring salvation to all people. Learn compassion from her, as you learn total service from Jesus, who has called you to leave everything and who today invites you to : COME FOLLOW ME!
 


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