Resources from the U.S. Bishops
How to respond to your son’s interest in the priesthood
Every parent wants their child to lead a happy, fulfilling life. And parenting a potential priest is the same as parenting any other child—it requires an openness to God’s will for your child’s life, because happiness comes only from following God’s plan.
Unfortunately, in a 2009 survey of recently ordained priests, 60% reported that they experienced some degree of parental opposition when they first announced an interest in the priesthood. The good news is that after several years of seminary and eventual ordination, most parents warm to the idea of having a son as a priest. They see that he is happy and fulfilled in his calling.
So if a young child expresses interest in priesthood of the religious life, rejoice! If you’re excited, don’t push too hard. And if you’re apprehensive, trust in God’s plan. Say to your little boy, “Son, whatever God wants for you, I want for you, too.”
If an older son (in high school or college) wants to be a priest, says Fr. Brett Brannen, author of To Save a Thousand Souls, say this to him: “I love you very much and I am proud of you for even considering priesthood. I will pray for you and support you as you go to the seminary. I will be very proud of you if you become a priest. But I will be equally proud of you if you discern that you must leave the seminary. I will welcome you home and help you in any way I can to find your true vocation. I am just proud that you love Jesus this much and that your faith is this strong.”
Everyone’s first vocation is to holiness, so parents should strive to create a home environment where Christian virtue can flourish. Here are a few other ideas:
- Invite a priest, sister, or brother to dinner at your home.
- Show your children a good example of holy marriage.
- Attend an ordination (normally held in early summer)
- Pray the diocesan prayer for vocations at supper.
- Always speak with respect for clergy and the Church.
- Read and discuss the Bible stories of Mary’s response to God (Luke 1:26-39), and about Jesus’ calling the Apostles (Mt 4:18-22).
- Speak openly of vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life.
Sometimes, as every parent knows, children ask very insightful questions that aren’t easily answered! When this happens, look for the answer online together. That shows that you take their inquiry seriously, and that it is worthwhile to get a good answer.