Q & A for Parents
It is natural for a parent to want the best for a child - a good education, a strong faith, friends and realistic goals for the future.
When your son was very young, he saw the future through the eyes of a child. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a doctor/lawyer/nurse/fisherman...;" is the typical response from a young child when asked about the future. But as children get older, they start to seriously look at their future. They begin to recognize their own talents, their likes and dislikes. They begin to think about what they really want to be when they grow up. As a parent, you are concerned, wondering it they are choosing the right path.
A priest serves God and the Church as an ordained minister. He celebrates Mass and the sacraments, preaches, leads the community in prayer and helps people in a variety of other ways. A priest often works full time in a parish, although some priests have been trained in more specialized ministries.
Some priests are also members of a religious community (like the Franciscans, Benedictines, or Jesuits.) They make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live, pray and work in parishes and in other ministries. Many priests are diocesan priests who devote their lives to serving the needs of a particular diocese. They promise to remain celibate and to obey the bishop of the diocese. Prayer and service are important part of their lives.
If your son hasn't already posed the question, the maybe you should ask yourself "How would I react if he did? or "How would my spouse react?" Would be a shock? Concern? Skepticism? Would it be a dream come true or your worse nightmare? Knowing and understanding your own feelings and why you feel that way is an important step in knowing how to respond to your son. A large majority of teens today feel that if they told their parents they were even "just thinking" about the priesthood, their parents would be completely opposed to the idea and probably laugh at them! But did you know that approximately 30% of Catholic teenage men consider priesthood during high school?
Quite simply, a Vocation in the religious sense is a call from God. God has given each person a Vocation just as He has given each of us special talents and abilities. Some of us are called to be married. Others are called to be single. Still, others are called to the priesthood or to the religious life. One vocation is not better than another. If you child shows an interest in the priesthood, we hope you will be supportive and encouraging.
An individual who wants to become a diocesan priest would apply through his local diocese for admission to a seminary. Then, once accepted by the bishop, he would be sent to seminary for education and formation.
While preparing for priesthood a seminarian studies philosophy, theology, scripture, history and pastoral ministry. After the successful completion of the seminary program, the candidate is ordained to the priesthood for service to his home diocese.
The most honest answer to this question is "it depends!" Diocesan priests almost always remain within their own diocese, serving the needs of the local parishes. Some priests will do mission work or be asked to study or work abroad for a period of time.
A person preparing for priesthood is encouraged to maintain healthy relationships with family members and friends. Letters, telephone calls, emails and personal visits enable candidates for the priesthood to keep in contact with family and friends. The seminarians for the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph study in various places around the country. Visits by family members are always welcome and the seminarians are able to go home on regular basis (just like any other college student, including Christmas and summer vacation).
Discernment is an ongoing process. Becoming a candidate with a diocese does not mean that your son is obligated to become a priest. Formation directors will help your son discern whether this choice is a good one. Your son may decide that he is called to serve the Church in another way, such as being married and raising children. Prayer and reflection will help your son develop a better sense of God's call.
If your son expresses an interest in priesthood, encourage him! Let him know that you want him to be happy in life and that you will support his interest. Answer your son's questions as best you can, and know that a priest can always help you answer the most difficult questions. Pray for your children that God will give them the strength and patience to discover their abilities and talents and use them to help others.
Continue to browse the resources on our website. However, you may still wish to discuss other questions with your pastor, a sister, a brother, or another priest whom you may know. You can also send an email to our Vocation Director, Fr. Adam Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he'll do his best to answer any questions or concerns.