VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Church's Year for Priests was intended as an occasion to renew in priests the awareness of the Church's evangelizing mission, according to Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.
The cardinal said this today during the Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which marks the beginning of the closing ceremonies of the year that will conclude on Friday.
Benedict XVI launched the yearlong celebration of the priesthood last June 19, which has had as its theme "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests."
The year coincides with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, known as the Curé d'Ars. To mark the end of the year, the clergy dicastery convoked an International Convention for Priests in Rome, which is under way through Friday.
"The great objective of the Year for Priests was to renew in every priest the awareness and concrete carrying out of their true priestly identity and their specific spirituality in order to again continue the mission in a renewed way," said Cardinal Hummes.
He pointed out the urgency "of the mission 'ad gentes' and the new missionary evangelization in lands already evangelized."
Cardinal Hummes explained that the new evangelization is the proclamation of Christ in the de-Christianized countries of the "old evangelization," and noted that it will often be similar to the "first proclamation of Jesus Christ in the countries and environments called, in the strict sense, lands and environments of mission 'ad gentes.'"
"This means that it is urgent to rise and go on mission," the cardinal added. "This is what the Holy Spirit wishes to renew in all of us in this international meeting.
"We must be very conscious of the present missionary urgency. Let us feel ourselves convoked and sent once again by the Lord. It is necessary that we rise and go on mission everywhere."
The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy said "the priest finds the means to live and carry out his vocation and mission above all in the Word of God, in the Eucharist and in prayer."
"Daily contact with the Word of God, in particular, in the form of 'lectio divina' and the study of theology is indispensable to deepen his adherence to Jesus Christ and nourish the content of his evangelization," he added.
In turn, Cardinal Hummes noted, the Eucharist "is center and summit of the life of the Church and, thus, of the life of the priest."
The whole ministry of the priest "is ordered to the Eucharist and begins from the Eucharist for the mission," he concluded. "The mission seeks to take new disciples to the Lord's table and from the Eucharistic table the disciples leave again on mission."