How parents can influence their child's vocation
by Sister Laura Zelten
When does one begin to consider a call to a particular Christian lifestyle? This was the question a group of us discussed one evening. Some thought around First Communion would be a good time; others suggested Confirmation when one was making a commitment to a way of Christian faithfulness. I thought Baptism. From the very beginning of life -- including Baptismal preparation -- parents can begin to ask, "Who do I want my child to become?"
Parents are the greatest role models in all aspects of their children's life, including religious formation. At baptism, parents commit to sharing their faith with their child while the parish community promises to support them. Parents tend to be good at helping their child prepare for a job or occupation but are not always so certain or confident about preparing a child for his/her greatest vocation - how to fulfill God's unique and important purpose.
I remember very well the support I received from my parents in my discernment of my call to religious life. Their love for one another and for each of us four girls was an example of how God loves us. Their faithfulness to prayer, the parish community and service to others strengthened our commitment to be women involved in the church and in service to others. My strongest memory of my Mother is her devotion to St. Joseph. Every Tuesday evening she went to St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere to join others in praying a novena to St. Joseph. This was her time to be with God in a special way. She didn't talk about it much, but we always knew it was important to her. She led by example and that has had a huge impact on my life as a "Sister" and on the lives of my sisters who are married. My parents' faithfulness to personal prayer, Sunday Mass and active involvement in their parish has strengthened our commitment to religious life and marriage.
May 15, the fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday; it is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This is the 48th year that the universal Church unites in prayer for vocations. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, invites us to reflect on this year's theme "Proposing Vocations in the Local Church."
The Second Vatican Council explicitly reminded us that the duty of fostering vocations pertains to the whole Christian community, which should exercise it above all by a fully Christian life. May families be animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty which is capable of helping children to welcome generously the call to priesthood and to religious life. -- Pope Benedict XVI
The Good Shepherd calls us and guides us on our Christian journey. By our baptism we are all called, chosen, and sent to carry on the mission of Jesus. Together as a faith community may we continue to pray for and support each other in promoting vocations to the married life, single life, consecrated religious life, or ordained life.
If you'd like to learn more about our Community, please select "Vocations Department" on our Contact Us page.
What Can Parents Do?
- Let your child experience your attitude of openness to God's will.
- Place priority on family prayer as a time of speaking and listening to a loving God.
- Encourage your child to listen and to talk to God when alone.
- Read and talk about Jesus' calling the Apostles to follow him.
- At times of family prayer, ask God to bless the priests, deacons, sisters or brothers who are known to the family.
- Provide opportunities for your child to read about people who responded to God's call.
- Talk about the ways in which religious men and women use their talents in the service of the Lord.
- As a family, pray for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.
- Encourage your child to give of their time and talents for others' needs.