How Are YOU Encouraging Your Children’s Vocation?
In a different era in the Church’s history in America, you might have attended Mass at a parish that had three or four Priests assigned there. And, chances are, at least one of those Priests were fresh out of seminary, maybe teaching in the local Catholic high school, and very relatable for the boys and young men in the parish. There was likely also a convent somewhere on the parish grounds, where a number of Religious Sisters lived and prayed together. And, those Sisters would have been very visible around the parish, especially in the parish school. In a world like that, vocations to the Priesthood and the various forms of Religious Life would have been something that most Catholic kids at least thought about while growing up because it was something they were constantly exposed to. And, the few parishes that maintain a strong Priestly and Religious presence still tend to inspire many vocations—St. Gertrude Church, a Dominican-run parish in Cincinnati, comes to mind as a great example!
In our times, unfortunately, we tend to have far more parishes than we have Priests and Religious Brothers and Sisters to staff them. So, that constant exposure isn’t there like it once was. However, lest we get discouraged, we can be certain that the Lord never stopped calling men and women to serve as Priests and Consecrated Religious! It’s just a bit harder in our age for a young person to hear that call, perhaps. And that’s where YOU come in, parents! What are YOU doing to help your children hear the Lord’s call in their life, and how are YOU encouraging them to be generous with their life and vocation?
The #1 thing you can be doing to help foster vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life is to teach your children how to be faithful Catholics. Bring them to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day (or even during the week, sometimes!). Bring them to Confession regularly, and lead by your own example. And—this is crucial—teach them to pray! That means being faithful to daily prayer as individuals; it means praying together as spouses; it means praying together as a family; and it means teaching your children how to pray. In other words, help them to have both a Sacramental and interior (personal) relationship with the Lord. To be sure, none of those things “produce” vocations, as if a vocation is something that we create. Rather, those practices dispose us—they prepare us—to be open to what the Lord is inviting us to. Every year, Georgetown University conducts a poll of newly-ordained Priests, and they found that over 70% of the 2020 ordination class regularly, as young men, prayed the Rosary, attended Eucharistic Exposition, and were altar servers. So…hint hint!!!
Finally, if someone—a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or anyone else—expresses interest in discerning a Priestly or Religious vocation, PLEASE ENCOURAGE THEM! Pray for them, and listen to them. They’re probably going through a lot of internal unrest and maybe even fear about what the Lord might be doing in their lives. And, help them to take a small step forward! Point them to Father Sean, me (Fr. Jedidiah), or Alex Dugas (our Intern) and we would be thrilled to talk with them and see if we can help in any way (with no pressure, and no strings attached). May God produce many good and holy vocations from our parishes, may our Blessed Mother raise up many holy and prayerful men and women to live as consecrated souls, and may we all support and encourage vocations by our words and lives.
Fr. Jedidiah Tritle