It is the desire of all parents, however, to see their children grow to be fulfilled, happy, and successful in life. If children truly seek and find God’s will for them, their lives will be fulfilled, happy, and successful. If their vocation is to be a priest, their generous response to that divine call will be a source of tremendous blessings for them and for their whole family.
In many respects, the initial seeds of a vocation are planted in a young man’s childhood, especially in the home. As your son discerns and follows his divine calling, always feel free to contact Fr. Mark Ivany, Director of Priest Vocations, at 202-636-9020. Or email Fr. Ivany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel that you need more knowledge about your faith, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek answers. Be patient with yourself and your child’s uncertainties and know that God is always present and working in your lives.
ARTICLES FOR PARENTS
PARENTS' ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
It is possible that your son could spend as few as five days or as many as five years in seminary and discern that the priesthood is not for him. There is nothing shameful about withdrawing from a program for this reason. The time spent in formation should never be considered a waste. Your son will have grown in holiness, self-awareness, and personal maturity through the entire process of discernment and his time in formation.
The main thing is to be understanding and encouraging. Ask him how you can assist and support him. This question alone will mean so much to your son and will reveal your unconditional love to him as he strives to pursue the Lord’s will.
Respect his privacy and ask him whether you should keep his discernment confidential for the moment.
It would be helpful–both to you and to him–if you were to learn more about his vocation. There are many useful resources on this website to learn more about discernment, seminary life, and the priesthood.
Most of all, pray for him! Give thanks to God for his life and ask the Lord to assist him with the grace of clarity and courage in following his vocation.
The overwhelming majority of priests are extremely happy in their vocations. Why? Because they are doing what the Lord intended for their lives. Most priests will cite administering the Sacraments, preaching the Word, and helping people and their families as great sources of satisfaction. Ultimately, the source of happiness for any child of God is his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. The priest is given the privilege of acting in the person of Christ in the life of the Church.
Studies consistently show that priests are very happy in their ministry, in far higher percentages than those studied in virtually any other life work. Oner exhaustive study of the priesthood was done by Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, who published his findings in the very readable Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between aloneness and loneliness. In the life of a priest, moments of solitude or aloneness are required for prayer, reflection, homily preparation, and rest. Many priests experience aloneness without feeling lonely. Further, in the midst of his ministry, a priest interacts with hundreds of individuals a week, and many life-giving friendships are enjoyed.
Still, no vocation, even marriage, is immune to loneliness. Therefore a priest must always be vigilant in maintaining health, relationships with family, friends, brother priests, religious brothers and sisters, and parishioners.
Depending on his age and educational background, it will take between seven and nine years to become a priest. One of the main reasons why it takes so long to become a priest, aside from the intellectual formation that is needed, is to give a man plenty of time to ensure that it is the right path for him.
Please see this section of the website for more details on the years of formation.
If your son’s discernment leads him to enter seminary, his departure will be similar to a son leaving home to attend college or to enlist in the military. There will be an inevitable transition period for each of you. He will most likely make visits home during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and over the summer vacation each year. Throughout his formation in seminary, he will be encouraged to maintain and develop family relationships through periodic visits and by frequent communication.
It is the intention of the Archdiocese that, whenever possible, financial considerations would never prevent a man from pursuing a call to the priesthood.