By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published October 29, 2015 | En Español
It’s a nearly universal parental mantra: “I want my child to be happy.” Parents everywhere worry about and pray constantly for the happiness of their children. And parents frequently worry about the vocational decisions that their children might make. Will they find future security and personal satisfaction? Will they be challenged and affirmed? Will they encounter good people who will inspire them and support them? Every parent has entertained those same questions.
Each year, the Alter Christus and Serra clubs invite the parents of our seminarians and young priests to a Mass and dinner that are helpful attempts to assure those parents that the decisions that their young sons are making or have just made are wholesome, worthwhile and fulfilling. The parents talk to each other about their sons, and they hear stories of reassurance. They speak with the parents of young priests and discover that those newly ordained sons remain very much a part of their parents’ lives and continue to display all of the enthusiasm and playfulness of healthy young men.
Last week at the dinner, Mrs. Hipp told me that Branson is “so happy.” (Father Hipp was just ordained in June and serves at St. Patrick Church, Norcross.) I’m sure that she shared that message with other moms and dads who were in attendance. Mr. and Mrs. Nadolski just basked in the light of Tim, who remains one of the most enthusiastic of our young priests. (Father Nadolski, also newly ordained, serves at St. Joseph Church, Dalton.) Mr. and Mrs. Kuhr are very much looking forward next year to their trip to Rome for Bryan’s ordination to the diaconate.
I pray that the Mass and dinner brought some welcome relief to the hearts of the parents of our young priests and future priests. These parents will still continue to worry about their sons—it’s in the parental DNA. But hopefully, they found much consolation in being with other parents and a few seminarians who assured them that being a priest in today’s world, while not an easy vocation, remains a calling that brings joy to the hearts of their sons and great blessings to the Church that they serve.
This past Sunday was Priesthood Sunday, and I hope lots of our folks made an extra effort to say a word of gratitude and encouragement to the priests who serve so generously in this local Church.
Our priests themselves are our very best vocational advertisement. When our young men see happy, holy, dedicated and joyful priests, they are encouraged to believe that the priestly life is a positive role and that they might be fulfilled in pursuing a priestly vocation. Parents who encounter balanced and loving priests may feel less anxious if a son of theirs expresses interest in becoming a priest.
Parental concerns about the happiness of their children will always be a factor in family life—as it should be. But witnessing and knowing priests who live lives of integrity and joy makes such a vocation less worrisome for everyone. We priests provide the most effective vocation commercials there are and it has always been thus.
Serrans and members of our Alter Christus club provide a great service in bringing the families of our seminarians and young priests together both for fellowship and also for the guarantee they give to one another that what our seminarians are pursuing and our young priests have recently embraced will both make them happy men and make our Church a better family of faith for us all.
This past weekend, I ran into a grandfather who serves as one of our deacons and is convinced his grandson has a priestly vocation. He told that young man so in my very presence. I also received a kind email from a father of one of the young men that I confirmed at St. Peter Chanel Church, telling me that he thinks his son perhaps has a vocation to the priesthood. I hope that both of these men continue to encourage those thoughts in their youngsters and to pray that God might indeed plant a vocation within the hearts of these young men. I can assure those families that they and their sons will remain in my heart and prayers.