If you think your son has a vocation to priesthood, don’t push him.
Gently invite and then it is best to leave it alone. If God is calling, your son will hear that call and, with your encouragement and support, will respond. Try to provide opportunities for your son to hear God’s call. This starts, first and foremost, with attendance at Mass as a family every week. Also, daily prayer as a family will help create the environment where a vocation can be nurtured. Pray before you eat dinner together. Ask each child to say where he or she saw God today. That will help them to be more attentive to God’s work in the world and in their lives. Pray the Rosary as a family together. Go on a pilgrimage as a family. Volunteer as a family.
Am I losing my son?
“Absolutely not! If anything, it draws a tighter bond between parents and son. Sunday afternoons I spend with my mother. We have dinner together with my siblings.” – Fr. John Manno
“No, you’re not! You’re going to have more of them, because all their friends become your friends too. They all came to our house and called us mom and dad.” – Mrs. Edna Scardella
Will he be happy living a celibate life?
“Very much so! (Celibacy) . . . allows me to give my whole self to my ministry.” – Fr. Joseph Scardella
“I’m not unhappy. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. The sense of fulfillment precludes any sense of loss. Marriage isn’t easy either.” – Fr. Michael Galuppi
He won’t know the joy of having children
“When I see him with the little kids around the altar and being with the confirmation kids, I think it’s as fulfilling as having his own. Instead of having just his own children, he has hundreds of children!” – Mr. Ken Galuppi
I won’t have grandchildren
“As for having grandchildren, he’s my only child, so it’s a loss. I’m not going to be experiencing (grandchildren). That void I fill with him, and the rest of the family, my nieces and nephews and all their children.” – Mr. Ken Galuppi
Is he ready to commit to this forever?
“When you go to seminary, you don’t sign a bottom line to become a priest. It’s an opportunity to discern, and you have several years to do it. When couples are getting married, they might have an engagement of one or two years, and that’s a lifetime commitment. Seminary has excellent preparation for the vocation; your spiritual director, mentors, brother seminarians all help you discern; they ask tough questions and make observations.” – Fr. Michael Galuppi
There is a diminished image of the priesthood today
“I think the scandals will take some time for the (bad) image to fade. I was in seminary during the scandal, so I was in a sort of protective bubble. I wasn’t out on the front lines, taking the hits. Since I’ve been ordained, I haven’t seen the distrust. We are our own best self-advocates. We’re small in number, but we’ll be around for a long time. We do things like the Men in Black basketball game to help people see the priesthood in a different way.” – Fr. Michael Galuppi
Other thoughts or comments?
“My parents said to me, ‘We want you to be happy, and if you want to be a priest, go for it, embrace it.’ I think many parents want their kids to get a good education and then get a lucrative job and be happy. We may need to let go of some expectations of what happiness is. Jesus said, ‘if you want to be the greatest, you have to be the least.’ There is real joy in service.” – Fr. John Manno
“My role model was Father (William) Brown at Immaculate Conception in Fulton. Six vocations came out of his parish. I’m reading (Fr.) Steve Rossetti’s book, ‘The Joy of the Priesthood’ now, and I agree with him: if we want more priests, we have to have happy priests. Even if someone is not 100 percent sure, give it a shot! If you feel an inkling of a call, don’t be afraid to answer it. The unknown is always frightening, but when you put yourself at God’s disposal, wonderful things happen.” – Fr. Joseph Scardella
What advice do you have for nurturing vocations in the family home?
“Go to Mass every week. Say your prayers. Pray for them. My husband and I pray the Rosary.” – Mrs. Edna Scardella
“Pray! Pray for a vocation in your family. A family that prays and a good parish that prays is important.” – Fr. John Manno
“John didn’t go to Catholic school, but we went to Mass every Sunday and holy day. He was adamant about being an altar boy at age eight. I would say, encourage your children to be what they want, what will make them happy. If priesthood is what he wants, encourage him! I remember before John was ordained a deacon, I said, ‘Is that what you really want to do? Are you sure?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ so we were behind him all the way.” – Mrs. Mary Manno
“Go to church every week and be active in parish organizations. Keep Christmas traditions. For us, Catholic school was important too.” – Mr. Ken Galuppi
“My dear young people, I wish to share a word about vocations. First of all, my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith…Let us always appreciate that is it in families that vocations are given life.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, to seminarians and young people at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), NY April 19, 2008.