Everyone has heard the saying, “The family that prays together stays together.” Families with strong prayer lives are also the key to nurturing men and women who will go on to serve the church through the priesthood and religious life.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said families that pray and go to Mass together regularly help children learn about the mysteries and beauty of the church from an early age.
“In the past, when there were larger families, parents were much more inclined to be supportive of a child who might choose to live a life of celibacy,” he said. “Since families now tend to be smaller, there is always a natural instinct in parents to want to see their children have children. It’s important for young people who show an interest to get support to pursue their vocation, or at least to test it.”
Father Jeffrey F. Kirby, diocesan vicar of vocations, said the key words to remember are prayer, encouragement and awareness.
Make young children aware of the priests and women religious in their church and school, and teach them about the roles they play. Encourage older children to ask questions about their faith, become involved in parish life, and learn what it means to serve Christ in different ways, he said.
Deacon David D. Nerbun, whose home parish is St. Joseph Church in Columbia, said his father always prayed for his children to find their true vocations, whether it was to the priesthood, religious or married life.
“He prayed for that non-stop, and I’ve always remembered that,” he said.
The deacon attends Pontifical North American College in Vatican City State. His sibling, Sister Mary Rachel Nerbun, is a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich.
He said families should remember that vocations are a gift not only to the church, but to the person being called.
“Basically it comes back to seeing the priest as a great gift to the community, and a necessary instrument of God,” he said. “Without the priest there are no sacraments. The priest is there for the most important parts of our lives. We need to encourage people to see the priesthood in its beauty and mystery.”
Bishop Guglielmone said it is important for parents to strike a balance when discussing vocations.
“Families need to let young people know that they will support them in whatever vocation God is calling them to,” he said.
For ways to open your family to vocations, visit www.10000vocations.org.