…from the moment your child was conceived you probably had many thoughts about what he or she would be when they grow up. You may have dreamed of playing catch in the backyard to one day watching him in the Major League. You may have danced with her throughout the house wondering if one day she would join the New York Ballet Company. All parents I believe pray that their child will grow up to be happy, healthy and wise. If you are checking out this page it is probably because another thought has come to mind; that of priesthood or consecrated life. You may have many questions and even some concerns; all understandable. It is our hope that we can answer a few questions; share some advice and help you to raise your child to follow God’s will for them.
As a parent you have probably had many different conversations with your children ranging from how school is going to how the game turned out. In each conversation there is a desire to show our children that we are truly interested in their life and where they find true happiness. For many parents the idea of their son or daughter having a priestly or consecrated vocation scares them. They wonder about grandchildren, will their child be happy without having a family of their own, is this for real or just another stage in my child’s life. The list goes on and on, but one thing is for sure; your son or daughter will pick up on your reaction to the idea of a priestly or consecrated vocation.
Things you can do
Pray – it can never be said enough that prayer must be at the heart of our lives and our families. It is important for you to pray with your children and express a desire for God to reveal to them the vocation He has prepared for them. It is also important for you to pray about your son or daughter’s decision at this time in their lives. If you are a parent who is not at peace with your son or daughter’s decision to consider a priestly or consecrated vocation bring it to prayer and ask the Lord to help you see His will in your child’s life.
Communicate – it is important to talk with your children about their vocation, which is given to them by God. If you are struggling with the idea of your son or daughter being called to the Priesthood or Consecrated Life talk with your pastor or a religious sister about it.
-ask your parish priest or a religious sister about how to walk with your son or daughter through this whole process. For some children it is just a phase and for others there is a deep stirring that they need to address in their own lives.
Listen – to both what your child is and is not saying. Too often we can jump the gun when a religious vocation is brought up. The Church has a long discernment process for both men and women and it takes time to know what God is asking of us. Just because they are talking about the seminary or convent does not mean they will be a priest or sister.
Cost – every parent asks the question – How can we afford this? and the Church responds with the generosity of the people in our Diocese. Through CFSA and many other private donations our seminarians are aided in their discernment journey. Bishop Swain does not want a man to not discern the priesthood because of cost. There is an obligation on the part of the man, but it is within his means. For those discerning the call to a religious community the financial policies vary.
Happiness – our culture struggles to see how a person can be happy and fulfilled living a chaste celibate life. Studies continue to show that priests are some of the happiest and most fulfilled people on the planet. That joy comes from a life given over to God and sustained by deep prayer. When a man or woman discovers that God may be calling them into a priestly or consecrated vocation there is a wonder and awe that is truly divine.
Timing – many parents wonder if their child would be better off going to college or working for a while before they head off to a seminary or convent. The life in a seminary or convent is not an escape from reality but a place in which a person comes to know themselves in a more profound way. One does not discern the priesthood and then go to seminary. Instead a man sensing a call by God goes to the seminary to discern the priesthood. For those who are not called their lives are enriched by the formation offered at the seminary or convent.