Faith in Action

When God comes knocking

 Last night as we made dinner my husband and I had an interesting conversation about our children. They are each wonderful and unique people, but Josh is probably our greatest challenge. He is strong, intelligent and very willful, but he also has a sensitivity and a strong sense of conscience … at three. I could see him being a missionary priest, scaling mountains to take the word of God to people so remote the modern world has passed them by. I could see him doing this fearlessly and with total devotion. Which led us to wonder…”How do you foster that spirit in a child?”

After discussion I think we came to the conclusion that you can’t, only God can. As parents our job isn’t to order, decide or even discover our children’s vocations… it is only to give them the tools, the love and the encouragement they will need to follow the call God gives them. This means above all accepting that call ourselves, without reservation, judgment or fear.

In the past year or so the Bishop of the Diocese I grew up in wrote a wonderful piece about vocations in his diocese. The Diocese of Baker is a large area, sparely populated, with a serious shortage of priests…. especially priests from the area. Yet every parish wants a priest that is in touch with spiritual needs of this rural, working, proud and independent population. Bishop Vasa’s take on the problem? It boiled down to basically this: If you want more priests from Eastern Oregon then send me more young men for the seminary. Stop discouraging your son’s vocations.

This morning I was so pleased to see Roman Catholic Vocations  linking to Bishop Vasa’s latest comments on this topic.

So in lieu of any great essay on the topic here are my reflections in list form:

How can parents help the priesthood, the Church and further the work of heaven.

  1. Be open to life. If you have one child or even just one son there is much more pressure on that one child to be “successful” or at least come home with a wife and grandchildren.

  2. Be faithful. I think this is especially important for fathers. Pray, go to mass, go to confession lead your family in faith. Exercise your universal priesthood on behalf of your family.

  3. Pray for your children to be open to God’s call whatever that might be.

  4. As a family pray for vocations and be active in your parish’s efforts to encourage vocations.

  5. Be open to vocations to religious life even when your children are small. Don’t assume they will marry and have children. Encourage them to keep their hearts open to where God will call them.

  6. Treat your priest with respect. Show by example that you are glad we have priests. Thank your priests after mass. Not all priests are great men, some are even the very opposite. Don’t be afraid to discuss problems of personality or leadership style, but don’t blow them out of proportion either.

  7. Get to know your priests as the men they are. Invite them to dinner, send them cards on their birthdays and other small kindnesses.

  8. Write letters to seminarians, encourage your children to support those in religious life. Check out religious on the web, share these things with your children as age appropriate. Encourage them to encourage those studying to be priests and those entering religious life.

  9. Encourage your sons to be altar servers.

  10. Encourage your children to explore the religious life. Our Diocese has several events, camps, retreats, and the like every year. Encourage your children to attend such things as they become old enough.


But probably most important: If your child expresses a twinkling of vocation encourage it. The discernment process is usually long. There are plenty of people who will speak to your son or daughter about the pit falls of religious life. As your child embarks on the path they will have ample opportunity to think about life without spouse or children, material success, and worldly acclaim. Trust their intelligence that if God isn’t calling them they will know this. But when they come to you don’t start discouraging them before they even have a chance to think seriously on the topic.