Every summer our diocese has a picnic for seminarians and their families. Unfortunately, our son was so sick last summer that he could not attend. Since it was our first year, we did not want to go without him. Looking back, we should have gone just to be able to meet the parents and siblings of other seminarians and see how “normal” they were.
Some catholic parents have been encouraging a religious vocation since infancy and would greet the news with great joy and satisfaction. Others, like my husband and I, did the best we could to raise our children with a strong faith and respect for priests, but never really thought one of our sons would enter seminary. Sure it was an option, but when we would mention it to our boys, they would laugh and say, ”No way is that going to happen Mom.”
I would have been happy if he just married a nice catholic girl. I guess I always assumed that seminarians came from families who were a lot more focused on vocations and more attentive to devotions like the rosary, daily mass and family prayer. We did none of these. Beyond grace at meals and bedtime prayers when they were small, the best I can say our family did was to pray the Divine Mercy novena from Good Friday to Divine Mercy Sunday. Mass every Sunday was a given even on vacation and when they went to camp. As a mother, I do take great pride every year in getting all 3 kids as teens and young adults to mass 4 times between 4th Sunday of Advent and the Sunday after New Year’s, all the while hearing “…but we just went to mass!”
It was several months into the first year of college seminary when I tracked down the name of another mother of a seminarian in our diocese. We met for lunch and found we had a lot of experiences in common wading into the unknown
waters of sending a son to seminary. Her son is 3 years ahead of mine, so she gave me good information and insights about what is ahead. Several months later, I met another seminarian mother. Again, we had lots in common regarding questions, experiences and feelings. We both wished we could have spoken earlier to another mother of a seminarian. She said “I wish I could have asked another mother, ‘How many pairs of black pants should I send with him?’. Mothers are practical as well as a little emotional when it comes to their seminarian sons. It is hard to hold on and let go at the same time.
If you would like to speak to a parent of a seminarian in your diocese or religious order, please contact the vocation director and ask for a contact. There are some things that only a parent can understand from a parent who has been there.
Please know that the contributing authors on this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find peace and understanding.