This month we will be welcoming parents of priests and seminarians and religious sisters to the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle for our first ever meeting of POPS, which stands for (you guessed it), Parents of Priests and Seminarians/Sisters.
Rhonda Bowden was the driving force behind this initiative which we hope will help our parents build community as they support their sons and daughters who are on a unique path in life. Rhonda certainly has lots of experience after walking with her son Andrew for eight years in the seminary while also supporting her husband Mark in deacon formation and her daughter Laura as she graduated from Millsaps and is now a full-time teacher. I hope that this group provides some good community and fraternity for our parents.
I know that it is both a joy and a challenge to support a child who is discerning priesthood and religious life, and as we try to normalize that experience for our young people we want to make sure that parents are not excluded. As we get more seminarians, we want to build up our network of support for parents as well. I hope that this dinner is the first of many opportunities for parents to network. One of the greatest sources of vocations is family support and consistent encouragement of children to consider priesthood and religious life, and we want our parents to know how much we appreciate their encouragement and support.
Please promote the possibility of priestly and religious life consistently to your children. This truly is the only way we will have a thriving church in the future. When we normalize vocations in the home, we provide our children with an opportunity to imagine the possibility of being a priest or nun just like they imagine the possibility of being a doctor or lawyer. This is so vital, and I ask for each parent to be intentional and courageous in presenting this possibility to your children. I know that it’s a little scary, but the church is here to support our young men and women, and I encourage you to speak with parents of seminarians/priests/sisters that you know and ask them how their children are doing. They certainly have challenges in their state in life, but they also have great joy and experience great triumphs, and most importantly, all of them believe that the Lord has called them to this task.
It is probably more difficult in our current culture than ever before to encourage a child to enter ministry. We have been discouraged in many ways, both within the culture and within the church, but still, there are great men and women who are stepping forward and families that are supporting them. Please follow their example. The devil would love for us to believe that our situation cannot be helped, and that vocations have simply “dried up” here in the states, but this is not true. We can always trust that God will provide, but we must be co-workers with the Lord. I am grateful for the parents of our priests, seminarians and sisters, and I ask that you offer prayers specifically for these families after reading this article.
– Father Nick Adam
If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, email firstname.lastname@example.org.