“Dad, Mom; I think I want to be a priest”, a young adult man said to his parents one day. The response was a mixture of surprise, joy, curiosity, and caution. “Will this make you happy?”, was the response by one of his parents.
Recently, I attended a seminar about vocations in the Church, part of which was a panel presentation by parents who have children that are priests, or religious sisters. The parents shared their own feelings and thoughts about having one of their children enter religious life or the diocesan priesthood. What made this panel especially interesting was the candor of the parents with regard to how they felt as their son or daughter told them they were entering religious life or the priesthood. The parents shared many responses: joy, surprise, happiness, excitement, confusion, delight, sadness.
What became clear during this panel discussion was the deep desire on the part of parents that no matter what path of life their children pursue, they want them to be happy. But, what was also clear, was that there is an element of the ‘unknown’ surrounding vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The ‘unknown’ element carried with it, for some of these parents, the question “will you be happy doing this?” It is an honest question on the part of parents.
Parents are great encouragers in the lives of their children (regardless of how old their children are—even into adulthood). Many parents encourage their children to consider a vocation in the Church. Many parents would like to encourage vocations, but have questions about it, some of which are concerns over happiness.
As a priest, I can truly say that Priesthood is a life worth living. As more parents’ questions and concerns are addressed regarding vocations, and happiness in a vocation, it will hopefully lead them also to say: Priesthood, Religious life, is a life worth living.
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