My personal journey as a former seminarian and my time with the vocations ministry of the Des Moines Diocese have brought me into encounters with many parents of young men and women discerning God’s call in their lives. I have witnessed parents overjoyed with the possibility that their child might become a priest or religious. I have also known many parents wary, or even opposed, to that possibility. What motivates such a wide range of reactions? What makes the difference in the hearts and minds of the mom and dad that support and encourage such a path?
Every parent desires for their child a life of happiness, lived to the full and filled with prosperity and peace. This desire does not distinguish our parents, what sets them apart is where they ultimately believe happiness can be found. For the men or women called to the priesthood or consecrated life, like those called to marriage, the result of following God’s call—their vocation— will lead to joy and peace. That is not to say that every moment will be perfect, or that neither sorrow nor pain will accompany life. However, for those who sincerely seek God’s will in their lives (and are willing to follow where that call leads) they will find in the scope of their lives the happiness that their parents hope for.
I have watched time and again as the parents of seminarians who were initially cautious and wary, or even upset and disappointed, become over time quite supportive of the path their son has chosen. This change of heart is caused by the observation of their son’s happiness, contentment, and sense of mission, all of which comes from following God’s will. Wanting their child to be happy, they now see that perhaps God has called them in a different way than He called them.
So, how can you help your child discover God’s purpose for them? Be open to all the varied ways God calls people to be in relationship with Him and others. Do not be afraid if that way is different than your hopes and dreams for your child, for God knows each of us by name, and only His call can satisfy the happiness and peace we seek.
(Jason Kurth, Chancellor and former Vocations Specialist, Diocese of Des Moines)