Pope tells Maronite students to be light for region's people

'Time of suffering and dangers, but also full of hope'

17 February, 01:28

     VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis on Friday received staff and students from the Pontifical Maronite College here in Rome, telling them that these years of training were the foundation stone of their future as pastors in Lebanon and the whole of the Middle East.

    Greeting seminarians and staff, Francis began by reflecting on the figure of St Maron and invited them to follow the example of this saint's qualities of faith and love which, he said, were pure sources for today's spiritually thirsty people.

    In his speech to the seminarians, the pope warned against "the risk of being absorbed by the culture of the provisional and appearance. He added that these years of study were an opportunity to absorb "the antibodies against worldliness and mediocrity".

    The pontiff also remarked that these years of formation were like a "Roman gymnasium", where, he said there was the help of God and staff to accompany them.

    Pope Francis noted that those studying for the priesthood at the college were called to live at a time of suffering and dangers, but also in a time full of hope. "The people who will be entrusted to you, he said, disoriented by the instability that unfortunately continues to affect the Middle East", will look to you as pastors for consolation.

    In his speech the pope told those present that he wanted to share two wishes with them, the first being the desire for peace.

    Quoting St John Paul II, the pope expressed the hope that in their land of Lebanon these seminarians would work to ensure that the country would always correspond "to its vocation of being a light for the peoples of the region and a sign of peace that comes from God" .

    The second wish, he said, concerned young people, adding that they needed to be accompanied with trust and patience.

    Young people, Pope Francis underlined, "are the promise of the future, the most serious investment for your ministry." In conclusion the pope entrusted to this Maronite community the protection of Our Lady of Lebanon and their great saints.

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