Q & A for Parents
It is natural for a parent to want the best for a child - a good education, a strong faith, friends and realistic goals for the future
When your son was very young, he saw the future through the eyes of a child. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a doctor/lawyer/nurse/fireman..:' is the typical response from a young child when asked about the future. But as children get older, they start to seriously look at their future. They begin to recognize their own talents, their likes and dislikes. They begin to think about what they really want to be when they grow up. As a parent, you are concerned . wondering if they are choosing the right path.
How should I react if my son talks about becoming a priest?
If your son hasn't already posed the question, then maybe you should ask yourself "How would I react if he did?" or "How would my spouse react?" Would it be shock? Concern? Skepticism? Would it be a dream come true or your worst nightmare? Knowing and understanding your own feelings and why you feel that way is an important step in knowing how to respond to your son. A large majority of teens today feel that if they told their parents they were even "just thinking" about priesthood, their parents would be completely opposed to the idea and probably laugh at them! But did you know that approximately 30% of Catholic teenage men consider the priesthood during high school?
Quite simply, a Vocation in the religious sense is a call from God. God has given each person a Vocation just has He has given each of us special talents and abilities. Some of us are called to be married. Others are called to be single. Still others are called to the priesthood or to religious life. One vocation is not better than another. If your child shows an interest in the priesthood, we hope that you will be supportive and encouraging
What is a priest?
A priest serves God and the Church as an ordained minister. He celebrates Mass and the sacraments, preaches, leads the community in prayer and helps people in a variety of other ways. A priest often works full time in a parish, although some priests have been trained in more specialized ministries.
Some priests are also members of a religious community (like the Franciscans, Benedictines, or Jesuits). They make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live, pray, and work with other members of their community. Religious priests can work in parishes or in other ministries. Many priests are diocesan priests who devote their lives to serving the needs of a particular diocese. They work in parishes and in the other ministries of the diocese. They promise to remain celibate and to obey the bishop of the diocese. Prayer and service are important parts of their lives. Read more about the Priesthood.
How does a person become a priest?
An individual who wants to become a diocesan priest would apply through his local diocese for admission to a seminary. Then, once accepted by the bishop, he would be then sent to seminary for education and formation. Some men begin seminary immediately after High school; others come to seminary after a few years of college, and still others wait until they have completed college or been working for several years. While preparing for the priesthood a seminarian studies philosophy, theology, scripture, history and pastoral ministry. After the successful completion of the seminary program, the candidate is ordained to the priesthood for service to his home diocese.
Who pays for everything?
The Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph pays for 11,500 dollars for College students. Tuition is around 20,000 dollars at Conception Seminary. The seminary further offers financial aid. The student can take out student loans which the diocese pays off if the young man is ordained. The Diocese pays for all the costs of education for those in Pre-theology, (those who already have a college degree before entering into the seminary) and Theology. A lack of finances should never prevent someone from responding to God's call the priesthood.
Will my son have to live far from our family?
The most honest answer to this question is "it depends!" Diocesan priests almost always remain within their own diocese, serving the needs of the local parishes. Some priests will do mission work or be asked to study or work abroad for a period of time.
Are there restrictions on family contact?
A person preparing for the priesthood is encouraged to maintain healthy relationships with family members and friends. Letters, telephone calls, emails and personal visits enable candidates for the priesthood to keep in contact with family and friends. The seminarians for the Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph study in various places around the country. Visits by family members are always welcome and the seminarians are able to go home on a regular basis (just like any other college student, including Christmas and summer vacation).
What if my son changes his mind?
Discernment is an ongoing process. Becoming a candidate with a diocese does not mean that your son is obligated to become a priest. Formation directors will help your son discern whether this choice is a good one. Your son may decide that he is called to serve the church in some other way, while being married and raising children. Prayer and reflection will help your son develop a better sense of God's call.
What should I do now?
If your son expresses an interest in priesthood, encourage him! Let him know that you want him to be happy in life and that you will support his interest. Answer your son's questions as best you can, and know that a priest can always help you answer the more difficult questions. Pray for your children that God will give them the strength and patience to discover their abilities and talents and use them to help others.
I still have more questions, what should I do?
There are still more resources on this webpage for you, but you may still wish to discuss other questions or concerns with your pastor, or with a sister, brother or priest whom you may know. If you would like to send an email to Msgr. Steve Cook, please click on my name and I'll do my best to answer your questions or concerns.