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What will your child be?

This is ultimately not yours to decide. This is for your child to decide. However, you do create a crucial environment within which the choice is made. You are the single most important influence your child will ever experience.

"The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it, parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them...fostering with special care any religious vocation." Vatican Council II

"Vocation to the priesthood and vowed life involves a call from God and deeply personal response...But the response is not made in a vacuum. It is made within a family and among friends who indicate in a variety of ways whether they consider a religious vocation a life of great value in the service of God and people." Religious Vocations are Guided

God, of course, gives the grace. "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you" (Jn 15:16). This should make every possible vocation a special concern for us. The inspiration and desire to serve God can be nurtured by the example, words, and guidance of parents, teachers, and friends. Foremost in the opportunity to implant such ambitions and desires are the child's own parents.

By their prayers for their children, by sympathetic and honest direction, by making their homes Christ-centered, parents can create a climate in which the grace of God can operate effectively. If they want to know how to create this environment, they can consult a priest or qualified adviser.

It is commonly said that many Catholic parents pray that God will inspire their children to follow a Church vocation, but the responses to surveys suggest that parents are not sure just what their own role is in fostering this calling. The majority of them seem reluctant to bring up the subject with their child, while many are unwilling to take the initiative, or even to encourage their child's vocation. These findings seem to indicate that as parents we need to be open and speak about the call to priesthood.

The Parental Role

Career studies, however, have shown that the occupational choices of young people are largely traceable to the influence of home, family, and parents. Most parents are willing to counsel their children about marriage or about specific occupations or opportunities in this business or that profession. Yet, they are reluctant to express preference or to give persuasive information about Church vocations. If the question is put specifically, as in the case of the son who already wants to be a religious, the parents know that they should encourage him to follow this vocation.

Some Practical Considerations

  • Older children in a family can often be inspired to speak about God and the things of God assisting in the religious education of younger sisters and brothers.
  • Prayer at the family table (particularly spontaneous and personal prayer) help to set the scene for prayer around the table of the Lord.
  • A happy family table provides a basis of understanding that the Eucharist is the celebration of faith and love shared by the family of God.
  • It is good to instill in children a competitive desire to serve each other, but one must be sure that the motive is one of serving others and not merely fulfilling the need to be needed.
  • Prayer is the blood of Christian life. It must be sincere, personal, intelligible, relevant, and reverent. Prayer for particular persons involved in priesthood and religious life help children to be aware of the esteem with which the Christian family regards vocations to religious life and priesthood.
  • Since the particular work of the priest involves the sacramental ministry and the formation of the Christian community, it is imperative that the Christian family do everything possible to emphasize the full liturgical impact of Eucharist and Penance and the importance of the family community.
  • A basic understanding of call is found in the concept of friendship. Really one who is called by Christ is called first to be His friend. Christ expects to be able to rely upon His friend and to reach out to others through His friend and to be understood by His friend even when others fail to understand. Children's literature contains many examples of beautiful friendships between people. It is always good to associate friendship and love with Him who is the source of friendship and love.
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