WHY IS MY SON THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A PRIEST?
For some parents, the fact that their son is interested in priesthood can be unsettling. These feelings are real and should be addressed openly and honestly. Talking with a priest or a trusted friend can help address these feelings. While it takes time to confirm a man’s calling from God, all Christians are called to be completely open to the Lord and entrust everything we love to God’s providence, including our children.
WHY DIDN’T HE TALK WITH ME? I JUST FOUND OUT MY SON HAS BEEN MEETING WITH A PRIEST FOR SOME TIME AND IS WELL ALONG IN HIS DECISION TO ENTER SEMINARY
Try not to be offended or hurt that your son didn’t confide in you until now. When men are thinking about whether they have a calling to the priesthood, they often wish to keep things confidential from the people closest to them until they are ready to talk about it. Rest assured your son does need and want his family’s support and encouragement – probably more than anyone else’s.
WHERE DID THIS DESIRE TO BE A PRIEST START? WE ARE NOT A VERY RELIGIOUS FAMILY AND I’M SHOCKED THAT MY SON HAS EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO BE A PRIEST
The short answer: God. In addition, family traditions and expectations influence children in a variety of ways. The beliefs they develop with the family unit are critical. In fact, your beliefs and actions may have impacted your son far beyond what you expected or intended.
WHAT IF I FEEL THAT MY SON IS NOT WORTHY OF THIS CALLING?
It is not necessary – nor possible – to have led a sin-free life. Priests are real people who at times struggle with their faith, commitments, and abilities. The priesthood requires certain skills and abilities, but it’s not for the perfect – it’s for the person who desires to serve God and his people. The year at Becket Hall (LINK) and formation at the seminary will help your son discern whether priesthood is the right path for him.
WILL MY SON BE LONELY LIVING A CELIBATE LIFESTYLE?
Every human being has some lonely moments, whether he or she is married, single, ordained, or religious (brother or sister). Priests acknowledge their need for companionship and activity by enjoying friends, family, and recreational pursuits. Properly lived, a celibate life is a deeply rewarding and fulfilling life.
AM I LOSING MY SON?
If you have been accustomed to having your son close to you, you may feel his absence when he enters seminary. This is similar to any parent whose child leaves home to go to college. There is often a transition period during which the parent feels a sense of loss. Your son will be encouraged to maintain and develop family relationships while in seminary and after ordination.
WILL I BE ABLE TO SEE HIM WHILE HE’S IN SEMINARY?
Yes! All seminaries have family weekends once or twice a year, and they encourage family and friends to visit. Seminarians are encouraged to maintain relationships with family and friends, and have breaks built into their curriculum which allow them to return home for important holidays.
HOW CAN I BEST SUPPORT MY SON AS HE IS MAKING HIS DECISION?
Prayer is most important. Listen without judging or criticizing, and reassure your son that whether or not he decides the priesthood is for him, you will love and accept him. Be honest with him about your worries and concerns about a vocation, but try not to treat your son any differently. Ask your son whether he wants to keep his decision-making confidential from others for the time being, and reassure him that you will honor that if he does. Encourage your child to be faithful to God’s call, whatever that may be.
WHAT IF I’M SAD BECAUSE THIS MEANS I’LL NEVER BE A GRANDPARENT?
While there are no guarantees anyone will become a grandparent, this is a common response and a challenge for many parents. Over time, many parents say that it is possible to see ways that God has blessed them that they did not understand right away. One of the most unexpected blessings is the joy experienced due to your son’s own happiness.
WHAT IF MY SON ENTERS THE SEMINARY AND IT’S A MISTAKE?
It is possible that your son could spend a short time or even a few years in seminary and decide it’s not for him. God’s will is that your son be happy, fulfilled, and living a life that makes the most of his talents. There is nothing shameful about trying it out and then realizing it is not for him. The time spent is not wasted, because your son will have grown to know himself –including his goals, values, strengths, and potential – a great deal better. He will also grow in his spiritual life and love for Christ.