Fr. Gary Dailey, the vocations director for our diocese, came to speak at the Children's Mass this morning. Ironically, he wasn't there to speak to the children, but rather to the parents. He spoke of the importance of the call from God that we each receive. We are each called to our state in life, married, or single, or the consecrated religious life. Our children are being called as well. Fr. Dailey challenged us to be open to our children answering the call to religious life.
God is continuing to call young people to serve, but that call is often drowned out by the definition of success that is so prevalent in the world today. Parents want their children to be successful. Teachers want their students to be successful. The success that is so sought for is often equated with the amount of money one can make. Even those who are open to low-paying service professions such as teaching or social work often can't envision their children as dedicated religious.
Yet, a parent's influence can be so important as a child struggles to discover what God wants for him or her. A parent can offer guidance and encouragement and offer a counterpoint to a world which places little value on service and sacrifice. If a child has even the slightest inclination to religious life, parents have the responsibilty to help them pay attention and at least explore the options available. We also have a responsibility to point out positive role models in the religious community. Religious sisters are not as common as they once were. Catholic schools and religious education programs are often staffed fully by lay people today, but point out those that do take an active role in the parish community. By the same token, one can also talk about the various roles that a priest has and how important it is that there continue to be priests to perform such important sacramental and ministerial functions.
Is it a sacrifice to have a child enter religious life? Of course. It may mean giving up the dream of watching grandchildren grow up. It may require a radically different picture of your child's future than the one you had envisioned. But just as God calls young people to religious life, God also calls their parents to be willing to give them up to God's service. If you hear God calling your child, will you answer the call?
For more information on vocations, visit www.vocationsplacement.org or contact the vocation director for your diocese.