It takes a family to ordain a priest.
Of course, a family doesn’t literally ordain a priest. The Bishop does that. But if it wasn’t for mom and dad, there would be no son for the Bishop to ordain. If there is no family, then there is no ordination. In the study of theology, we often talk about what is “essential” for a sacrament. We could add to the list of essentials for the sacrament of Holy Orders the “family”. It takes a family to ordain a priest. What a blessing a priestly or religious vocation is for a family!
Having gone to numerous priesthood and diaconate ordinations, I have noticed the reactions of many priest family members. I have noticed that the parents of the ordained shed tears, gaze at their sons, smile, and reflect quietly on the liturgy. I have always wondered what their thoughts and feelings are on ordination night. They have an understanding of their son that only a mother and father could. They know the journey. They know the story. They were there from the start of this man’s life. I can’t even begin to imagine what such an experience would mean. I think it would be an awesome thing!
Not only is being a priest’s parent an excellent blessing on ordination night, but also for the rest of the life of that family. Priest moms and dads really belong to the whole Church. I love to meet parents of a priest or a sister. They are usually very impressive, faithful, and wonderful people. Whenever I meet the parents of a brother priest, I feel like I belong to them in some way, too. I feel as if I am part of their family, too. It always warms my heart to see parishioners at Our Lady of Peace Parish treat my mom and dad with warmness and hospitality.
These moms and dads are the real Vocation Directors. They are, in a very real way, the first pastors of their children, too. Moms and dads, being the parent of a priest is an awesome thing! Don’t be afraid of it! You will gain so much more than you imagine. Obviously, your family would share in the sacrifices of your son. But you will also share in the joys of priesthood as well, of which there are many. Don’t be afraid to encourage your sons to be holy men. Pray for their vocation. Encourage them to have an open mind. Keep knocking on their door until they get the message about faith. Persevere.
If 2012 finds you watching a little boy crawling around on the ground or playing with Star Wars Lightsabers in the backyard, then Vocations is a relevant topic for you. Think about how you will raise your sons. Think about how you will raise your daughters. Ask yourself, “will I prepare this child to simply be successful in life, or will I prepare this child to be God’s child for eternal life?”. Your answer to that question will determine not only the future of vocations in the Church, but the future of the Church itself. Do not be afraid to point your sons in the direction of the altar, both today, and tomorrow.