CATHOLIC Diocese of Ndola Bishop Alick Banda says priests must stand by the poor and act with boldness on issues that affect them.
In his homily during his ordination of 12 deacons as priests at Cathedral of Christ the King in Ndola yesterday, Bishop Banda said to become a priest was not primarily the choice of an individual but God's, and those called to the order of priesthood must play their role in the restoration of Christian faith among people.
He said priests must always be ready to leave everything to serve people diligently and always uphold the dignity and sanctity of priesthood.
"You may ask how we recognise this will of God with the geography of poverty in society, with the language of unemployment, unfulfilled promises, with the landscape of power struggle, insinuations, innuendos and with an attitude of complaints about this and that. My dear ordinants, if you learn to depend on the Lord's word, nourished by the sacraments, you shall come to know God's will," Bishop Banda said.
He said those ordained to the order of priesthood must always remember that generous and self-giving love especially for the poor does not end in the grave but lives forever.
Bishop Banda said priesthood was service to God and the people entrusted to be in their care.
"God expects you to accept with an open heart all those who knock at your door. Advise them, caution them, comfort them and support them. Guide them all towards that unity of faith and love because to you is entrusted the redeemed sacrifice of Christ, his body and blood," Bishop Banda said.
He said ordination to priesthood was not an end in itself but a journey that matures towards a pastoral paternity.
"With this ordination, you do not become professional bachelors but spiritual fathers. You are not bachelors - I want to underscore this - but you are spiritual fathers and a good father strives to provide for his family. You too ought to provide for all those that are entrusted to your care, so that they may grow in their faith and their way of life," Bishop Banda said.
He said priests must help build facilities and provide Christians with content and atmosphere that enhances spiritual growth.
Bishop Banda also urged Christians to support young priests and encourage them in their pastoral duties.