Message on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests
08 June 2018


Dear Brother Priests,

I take joy in greeting all of you priests here in the Philippines during our Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons on this Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. In 2002, Pope St. John Paul II designated the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as a Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. During this year, this day takes on a special meaning for our Church here in the Philippines.

This is a year for the renewal of the clergy and consecrated persons – renewed servant leaders for the new evangelization. Let us keep this in the context that this year is in preparation for 2021, the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. We envision a renewed and evangelizing Church.

I am with you in your deep desire to be renewed particularly during this year, for your sake and not just for your own sake but for the sake of our Church. As priests we are called to be totally dedicated to Christ: united, conformed, and configured to Christ. We are called to have the mind and heart of Christ the Shepherd and Servant. We need to reflect on the heart of Christ the Good Shepherd, because we are called and sent to be servant shepherds to God’s flock.

St. John Paul II wrote in Pastores Dabo Vobis: “God promises the Church not just any sort of shepherds, but shepherds ‘after his own heart.’ And God’s ‘heart’ has revealed itself to us fully in the heart of Christ the good shepherd. Christ’s heart continues today to have compassion for the multitudes and to give them the bread of truth, the bread of love, the bread of life (cf. Mk. 6:30ff.), and it pleads to be allowed to beat in other hearts, priests’ hearts: ‘You give them something to eat’ (Mk. 6:37). People need to come out of their anonymity and fear. They need to be known and called by name, to walk in safety, along the paths of life, to be found again if they have become lost, to be loved, to receive salvation as the supreme gift of God’s love. All this is done by Jesus, the good shepherd – by himself and by his priests with him.” (Pastores Dabo Vobis No. 82)

May the grace of this year be for us the source of renewing our values, mind-sets, behavior and life-styles following the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd. Let us truly become servant-leaders who care most especially for the least, the lost and the last.

May our joy in following Christ fill the whole Church and lead us all to the true Shepherd.

Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

P.N. 008/2018
07 May 2018