Pope's May prayer intentions: for seminarians, men and women religious

Above: Pope Francis gathers with a group of religious sisters for a group photo at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican Feb. 28, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Religious formation must also be human, ongoing, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Seminarians and religious men and women need well-rounded formation throughout their lives, not only at the onset of their religious training, Pope Francis said.

In his prayer intention for the month of May, released April 30 by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the pope described each vocation as a "diamond in the rough" needing careful and continual cultivation.

Each vocation "needs to be polished, worked, shaped on every side," Pope Francis said in a video accompanying his message.

He highlighted the need for religious men and women to be well-rounded, both spiritually and as people who are members of a community.

"A good priest, sister or nun must above all else be a man or woman who is formed, shaped by the Lord's grace," he said, adding that they must be "people who are aware of their own limitations and willing to lead a life of prayer, of dedicated witness to the Gospel."

The pope stressed that effective formation begins in the seminary or novitiate stages of a vocational journey through direct contact with others in the "enriching" experience of community life, "although sometimes it can be difficult."

"Living together is not the same as living in community," he said.

Yet he added that formation "does not end at a determined moment but continues throughout life, throughout the years, integrating the person intellectually, humanly, affectively and spiritually."

Pope Francis ended the video by asking Christians to pray so that seminarians and men and women religious may "grow in their own vocational journey through human, pastoral, spiritual and community formation that leads them to be credible witnesses of the Gospel."