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When asked about their reaction upon hearing their son/daughter was interested in priesthood/religious life, parents of the share a wide variety of responses. Some parents are happy. Some are shocked. Some are initially opposed and need more time to grow accustomed to the idea.

 

What was your reaction to your son telling you he wanted to study for the priesthood?

  • “Somewhat of a shock as he has spent 13 years in a highly technical career.”
  • “Not very good. I knew I should have been happy, but I tried to discourage it.”
  • “At first we were both a little surprised even though he had been very active in a spiritual group at school. It did not take long before we were pleased and proud of him.”
  • “We were very proud and thankful that he would offer his life to discerning the possibility of becoming a priest.”
  •  “Bittersweet, Proud, Joyful, he is our only child.”
  • “At our son’s disclosure, I told my husband, and we both cried tears of joy.”
  • “We were happy but not surprised.”
  • “My reaction was somewhat of a surprise because he was dating a wonderful young woman. If he had not been dating her, I would not have been too surprised because I thought a long time ago (when he was a child) that he would make a very good priest because of his compassion and understanding of the human person, and other qualities.”
  • “Our initial reaction was negative. Our son was fifteen when he first spoke of it and we were taken by surprise. I don’t know what caused our negative reaction, whether it was not really understanding a vocation or the fact that a vocation is 'different' than what we had anticipated he may do with his life.”
  • Our first response when he told us he wanted to be a priest was of total shock with a major question of "Where did this come from?"  He had just returned home from a Kairos retreat in April with his senior high school class.  He had never been away on a retreat previously.  Our thoughts were that his interest in becoming a priest was a response from the Kairos retreat.  Never before had he discussed his call to the priesthood with us.  After a lengthy discussion he informed us that he had many times since he had been in high school thought that he had this calling and had tried to repress these feelings.  The previous summer we had visited many colleges with the intent that he would pursue a degree in computer engineering and it was close to the time of May 1st when all of the colleges he had been accepted at needed to be notified of his attendance or not.  We as parents thought that it would be a good thing if he attended a "regular" college for four years, then enter the seminary.  He on the other hand was so sure of his commitment to becoming a priest that he wanted to change all of his previous plans.

What was your reaction to your daughter telling you she wanted to be a sister?

  • My first reaction was a little surprised, although I saw things she did that made me realize she had thought about this for some time.
  • Surprise.
  • For several years, we thought that becoming a sister was possibly a life choice for her, so when she told us of her decision, we were very excited and happy.

Having a son/daughter consider the vocation of priesthood/religious life brings with it a wide array of emotional responses. Among these responses is joy. Parents share how their son’s/daughter's response is a source of joy for them.

As parents, what is your greatest joy in having a son who is a seminarian?

  • “Seeing that he is happy and at peace with his decision.”
  • “We are very proud of his decision to be a servant of God during these difficult years in the Catholic Church. His commitment seems to have intensified.”
  • “We have always felt the Lord had something special planned for him spiritually.”
  • “Seeing how happy he is now that he has made his choice to enter the seminary and knowing that he has chosen a spiritual and giving lifestyle.”
  • “The joy of giving praise to God for this gift.”
  • “We are very proud of him. He has made us better people spiritually.”
  • “He has brought great joy to us in his dedication to his studies and his devotion to his faith. Anyone who is willing to give up worldly pleasures to follow Christ is a great joy. We certainly need more who are willing to do the same.”
  • Our greatest joy in having a son who is studying to become a priest is seeing his vocation grow.  His interest in all things pertaining to the Catholic faith is truly amazing.  For example he uses the internet to keep abreast of what is happening in Rome and to read any new writings from Pope Benedict.  We are constantly learning so many new things from him.

As parents, what is your greatest joy in having a daughter preparing to be a sister?

  • That she is happy and is doing good things.
  • Seeing how happy she is. She has been an absolutely wonderful aunt to her 20 nieces and nephews.
  • We knew nothing about the years of study and work involved before she takes her final vows, but we can see already how much good comes from the work the Sisters do and we can see how happy this makes her. It is so good too, to see the family atmosphere that she lives in. She brings such joy and peace to us and we, along with her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, are all so proud of her.

Making the decision to begin formation and pursue a vocation to the priesthood/religious life is not a small decision. Parents are genuinely concerned about their son’s/daughter's wellbeing and happiness, and expressed very real and significant concerns.

 

What was your greatest concern about your son entering the seminary?

  • “That this was indeed the right choice for him and that he will have further proper time of discernment.”
  • “That he would be lonely. That he would have no wife and especially children.”
  • “Whether it was what he really wanted to do. It is really difficult for a boy of eighteen to make this decision, but very rewarding to see the transformation into a man committed to his decision.”
  • “The greatest concern that we have is the scrutiny of the public who label priests as child molesters.”
  • “Why has he chosen this path, what will his studies be, and does he realize what he is giving up?”
  • “I really didn’t have any concerns. I only prayed that he would be a holy and faithful follower of Christ.”
  • “Spiritually I have no concerns because I know he is listening for the Lord and wants to do God’s will in his life. How will all the past and current issues associated with the priesthood affect him (such as: clergy sex abuse scandals, the horrific way the church hierarchy handled priests who committed/commit all sorts of immoral acts, the continuing discussion about married priests and ordination of women, and the increasing problem of a shortage of priests in the Toledo Diocese.”
  • “I think my greatest concern is with the upheaval the Church is and have been going through with the uncovering of sexual abuse cases. I know there are a lot of people who would do anything for money and it scares me that my son could be falsely accused or grouped in with those who have done wrong.”
  • One of our greatest concerns about him entering the priesthood was what does he do with a seminarian education if he does not become a priest.  This sounds like putting the cart before the horse, but it was a concern since we do have a financial investment in his college years and looking at the dropout rate from the seminary, this is a real concern.  After some thought however, there are some career choices like youth ministry, mission advancement at hospitals and nursing homes, or possibly a religion teacher that might be pursued.

What was your greatest concern about your daughter entering religious life?

  • We would have no grandchildren through her. She would lose her independence and we wondered how she would react to that.
  • That she would miss the pleasure of being a wife and mother.
  • There was really no concern. We knew that she took her time making this decision, so we knew that it was the right one for her.

Who knows better what it is to have a son/daughter enter formation than a parent whose son/daughter has responded to this call? The parents offer these words of advice.

 

What advice would you offer to parents whose son is interested in priesthood?

  • “Pray about it.”
  • “Find out as much as you can about the process. Attend all social and religious events. Be his support system.”
  • “Be willing to encourage and also pray for more vocations.”
  • “Realize that this is a call to discernment. Prayer and patience and communication are vital in the process for all involved.”
    “Give his all the support you can but don’t force him into something that is not God calling. Your son will know God’s will and should follow it.”
  • “Check it out and say yes if that is really what they want.”
  • “Give your son the support he needs to go ahead and take the leap of faith to enter the seminary. If he wants to do God’s will, then, even if he isn’t called to the priesthood, God will have something waiting for him when he leaves, and there won’t be the question of ‘Did I answer God’s call in my life the way God was asking of me?’ And if he is called to the priesthood, he won’t find anything more fulfilling life than doing God’s will.”
  • “Encourage your son. Be supportive and not afraid. If this brings joy to him, be happy. After all, isn’t that what parents want most for their children – to see them truly happy?”
  • Our advice to parents who have a son interested in the priesthood is to offer your support in any way you can.  We might have wanted our son to pursue a normal lifestyle as we see it, getting married, having children, but this is not our life to live.  He needs to do what is in his heart and follow his own path.  The journey to becoming  a priest is difficult and takes 9 years.  Our hope is, if this is truly what God has chosen our son to become, that if he has no doubts after 9 years then why should we have doubts.  We have been totally amazed at the outpouring of support spiritually, mentally, and financially that he and we have received since he has entered the seminary.  We have received encouragement from the Serra Clubs, K of C, Ohio Knights, the Vocation Office, Bishop Blair & the Diocese of Toledo, our local parish Priests, the faculty and staff of the Josephinum, other family members of seminarians, coworkers, past teachers, our dentist, frients & family, and people we do not even know.  The support we have received is truly mind boggling.  Not once have we received a negative comment all have been truly encouraging.

What advice would you offer to parents whose daughter is interested in religious life?

  • If this is what your daughter is called to do and feels the call, she should do it. You have to be happy doing what makes you happy in any vocation.
  • To allow her to follow her dream. If it is not right for her, she will know.
  • As with our other children we just encourage them to do what is best for them. We tried to set a good example as parents. The other children chose marriage; she chose the religious life. We are so proud of all of them.
 
   
 


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