Families: Stewards of Vocations
Priests, bishops, and even the Supreme Pontiff came from families. All of them grew up in the context of a family. The seed of their vocation began to sprout in one way or another inside the family. Oftentimes, those who respond to the call of God to the priesthood are first inspired by the witness of love and service of their parents even in the simplest ways. Many of them have parents who are actively involved in parish activities. These parents bring their children to church to hear Mass and to involve them in their apostolates. The children may not understand what their parents do but their eyes are slowly opened to what Church life means. And at the end of the day, the whole family prays its devotions such as the holy Rosary. Thus, the seed of vocation is slowly planted in the children’s hearts. This seed, if nurtured, will soon sprout and bear fruit.
The most basic of all communities, the family may be considered every person’s first experience of the Church. It is the domestic Church, a small parish. This basic community ought to discern the will of God for itself through the leadership of the parents. They walk together towards the fulfilment of God’s dream for them. Pope Francis in his homily on August 6, 2014, said that the journey of Israel in the desert towards the Promised Land was a journey of families. There were grandparents, parents and children walking together. Oftentimes they were confronted by the complexities of life but by clinging to the faithfulness of God they overcame it all. Thus, the family is a small unit of the People of God. It is a small pilgrim Church.
From this small Church, God calls young men to be ministers of the Universal Church. In His own mysterious ways He plants the seeds of vocation to the priesthood. The family, even however imperfect it may be, receives this wonderful gift from God. As Don Bosco said, the greatest gift to a family is a son-priest. To give a child to God may be a great sacrifice for parents but God will not take it unrewarded. He cannot be outdone in generosity. The parents, as they give their son, also receive an unimaginable blessing from God.
Thus, families must be grateful when one of their children begins to express his desire to be a priest. Every family must welcome this with open mindedness. It is saddening to know that at times, it is the parents who first discourage their son to pursue this vocation. They must not interfere God in fulfilling His plan for their child and for the Church. Instead, families must help their children discern the will of God. In as much as this vocation is a gift to a family, it is also a responsibility. The family is the steward of vocation. It has the task of nurturing this vocation through constant prayer and dialogue with the child who is dreaming of becoming a priest. The whole family must journey with him in this pursuit. The path he will be taking is not easy. He needs a support system. Vocation to the priesthood, then, is not the child’s solitary journey It is a journey of the family.