Monday, October 19, 2009

Parenting a Possible Vocation to the Priesthood

A Vocation to be a Priest written by and for teens who are discerning a call to the priesthood, is a fabulous website that is drawing wonderful reviews worldwide. I have written this story to help show my support for their efforts and wanted to share it here as well. Please support the website with your visits and your prayers. If you have a vocation story that you would like to share, please contact the editors. I'm sure that they would be very happy to hear from you!

Parenting a Possible Vocation to the Priesthood

My husband Paul and I are the proud parents of four sons and one daughter. When my youngest son was born, a woman from church came to bring me communion in the hospital. Instead of congratulating me on the birth of my son, she said “Oh you poor thing! Four boys! They are all going to get married and leave you one day!” I countered her sad remark with “Maybe they will all grow up to be priests! Who knows what God’s desires are for their lives?” And since that day, I have resolved to cooperate as best I can with God’s plans for my children, because after all, they are His children first.

When John, my oldest son, was in the fourth grade, he began to express an interest in the priesthood and my heart was overjoyed! I knew that if God were truly calling him to this holy and honorable vocation, then it was my responsibility as his mother to pray for him and do all that I could to assist and support him. My sisters were also very supportive and began to give him spiritual books about the saints and invite him to prayer groups. He was always very open to that, although I do worry a bit that maybe he would think we were pushing him into the priesthood. I know that in life, balance is important in all things, including answering God’s call, so I try to gently invite and to be understanding when the answer might be “No, thank you.”

However, it seems that no matter what faith events and activities I would present to John as an option for his life, he has always said “yes.” He joined the Choristers of St. Francis Xavier at our Cathedral when he was in the 4th grade and continues to sing with this group. He has recently joined the adult choir at our home parish. He also sings with the youth ministry at his Catholic High School. He has been an altar server since the 5th grade. He is the only young man that our parish requests as an altar server for funerals. He and two of his brothers who are also altar servers were given the nickname of the “A-team servers” by our director of liturgical music. He has been doing an outstanding job of lectoring at Mass for the past two years. It seems that there is no part of the liturgy in which John is not open to becoming involved in and he enjoys all of it.

John is now 16 years old and I continue to marvel at his deep faith and maturity. In many ways, I feel as if he is the spiritual parent, and I simply follow his lead. I have learned a great deal from him! He seems to receive great joy in speaking of his faith and sharing it with me. He recommends spiritual books to me and shares his faith writings with me. His fine example has helped me to grow in my faith. What I have become very aware of regarding John’s deep faith is my great responsibility in needing to also live my faith well. If my son is to become a great and holy priest, the example of a holy mother is so important. So, I turn to God very frequently and am so pleased when John is able to join me in prayer at daily Mass, at adoration and at Holy Hours.

We are very blessed to have a fabulous Seminary in our Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States. The Seminary of St. Francis de Sales offers a summer camp for youth who are interested in the priesthood and also offers programs throughout the year such as “A Day in the Life of a Priest”, in which John always enjoys participating. A vocation to the priesthood involves so much more support than what a family can provide on their own, so I am very grateful that these opportunities are available to enrich John’s spiritual life and support him in God’s call for his life.

I see it as a great honor and a tremendous responsibility to have the privilege of raising God’s children. It is my job to see to it that my children know and live their faith. I see my role as mother as one of openness to God’s will in all things. If God is truly calling John to the priesthood, then I will honor and respect that. And, if it becomes clear to John that this is not God’s will for him, then I need to honor and respect that as well. It isn’t easy to know God’s will or to remain open to it. So many times I struggle because I want my will! But I believe that all things are possible with God, and if He is truly calling my son to the priesthood, then who am I to stand in His way? If the day of Ordination to the Priesthood does arrive for John, I will be so proud and happy to continue to pray for him and support him in his Priesthood in any and every way that I can!


  1. I have been on that site and loved reading the stories of these young men. I am trying to back them with prayer support, also. You are a wonderful mother and I enjoy reading stories about your family. They are inspiring and always lift my heart. When you share these things it helps me be a better mother, too. I came from a very dysfunctional family so I worry about my mothering skills. I always ask Mother Mary to help me and often the Lord draws me to sites on mothering. Thank you for sharing these glimpses into your family life :)

  2. Anne,
    I too have visited this site, and it is a blessing to those young men discerning the priesthood.
    It was said that "It takes a village" to raise a child. Well I propose it takes a Church to raise good and holy priests. We are all behind you in prayer, not only for John's discernment but for you and your husband as parents as well. I think if more parents did as you are doing, there would be no such thing as a shortage of vocations.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    God Bless!

  3. Anne,
    Peace be with you!
    i came to your blog through John's blog.
    What a gift John has received! A parents' support is a beautiful thing! And what a gift God has given you, a future priest! Praise God!
    I have been discerning my call as a religious and I'm finishing up college in Chicago before I can enter. I met a young man in the seminary, Jake Heidel and have been following your son's blog when Jake asked me to pray for John's vocation.
    Please keep me in your prayers...I'm hoping to clear my school debt so I can enter with the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary soon.
    Know of my prayers for your family!

    In the love of the Pierced Hearts,

  4. Oh, I could think of no greater joy than having one of my sons become a Priest!! You are very blessed by his strong faith :)

  5. Thank you for the visit to my blog and prayers for my little one. What a happy turn of events, to find another Catholic Mama blogging! I look forward to reading more from you, and will probably get a good headstart this evening while I snuggle and nurse my sweet babe.

    I love this post on vocations--there are plenty of "boy-heavy" families in our parish, and the big deal for all the little brothers is to become old enough to 1.) receive Jesus in the Eucharist, 2.) serve every Sunday with their big brothers (who number as many as 13 or so every week, praise God!), and 3.) serve the big diocesan Masses with the legions of seminarians! What a tremendous blessing!!

  6. Anne - how can I begin to thank you? You have offered so much support to us and we now get more visitors from your blog than anywhere else at the moment! If just 20% of our visitors become priests that would be stunning - if 100% prayed for vocations and were uplifted by our attempts to contemplate being priests, that would be nothing short of a miracle. Right now I thank God for the internet: while there is an incredible amount of junk out there, there is a tremendous force for good... we have tapped into the Truth.

  7. Just found this short extract from Pastores Dabo Vobis:-

    A very special responsibility falls upon the Christian family, which by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony shares in its own unique way in the educational mission of the Church -- teacher and mother. As the synod fathers wrote: "The Christian family, which is truly a 'domestic Church'(Lumen Gentium, 11), has always offered and continues to offer favorable
    conditions for the birth of vocations. Since the reality of the Christian family is endangered nowadays, much importance should be given to pastoral work on behalf of the family, in order that the families themselves, generously accepting the gift of human life, may be 'as it were, a first seminary'
    (Optatam Totius, 2) in which children can acquire from the beginning an awareness of piety and prayer and love for the Church.(118)