This was the essence of the Pope's advice on Saturday afternoon, when he celebrated Mass in the Vatican for three parishes located in the eastern outskirts of Rome: St. John of the Cross, St. Felicitas and Sts. Crisanto and Daria.
In his homily, the Holy Father focused on "the most urgent and important pastoral priorities and apostolic challenges" these parish communities are facing.
"In order to offer incisive Christian witness in today's world," it is necessary to promote "fraternal communion among all those who make up the parish," the Pope said.
"A united parish, in which the diversity of ministries and charisms is respected, shows the face of a hospitable family, animated only by the desire to proclaim the Gospel and witness to it," he said.
The Holy Father then highlighted the areas in the parish which need priority action, taking into account not only those who are "close" but those who are "outside" the faith.
"In the first place, be concerned with families and young people," the Pope urged the three parishes.
"May youth pastoral care be the privileged objective of your evangelizing action, valuing parish centers as places of human, spiritual and ecclesial formation of children and young people," he added.
'"Do not cease, either, to awaken vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life through prayer and example," the Bishop of Rome said. "The Church needs many priests, men and women religious, men and women joyfully consecrated to God for the good of the people."
Finally, John Paul II requested that attention be given to "the spiritual and material needs of brothers." In particular, he thanked these parishes for responding to the need for long-distance adoption of children.