Recently, the Archdiocese of Washington had a “Seminarian Family Day” in which current seminarians and their families gathered to celebrate Mass and enjoy a picnic. The purpose of the day was to recognize the importance of the family in a young man’s decision to pursue the call to the priesthood. Our diocesan paper reported on the event, and something struck me about the families of the three seminarians they profiled:
Doug Powell, the father of seminarian Jonathan Powell, said he is proud of his son’s decision to explore a vocation to the priesthood…
He and his wife, Tam, the parents of 12 children, have tried to foster vocations in their home by being open about faith, committing to family prayer and homeschooling their children, he said…
Kimberly Schnitker, the mother of seminarian Max Schnitker and a parishioner of St. John Vianney Parish in Prince Frederick, said her family fosters vocations by attending daily Mass, praying the rosary, homeschooling their children and maintaining friendships with priests who are an “inspiration to them.”
Michael Berard, a parishioner of St. Hugh Parish in Greenbelt whose son, Jack Berard, is a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, said he and his wife, Pat, fostered vocations in their home by striving to be living examples for their 10 children.
Did you notice what I highlighted? One seminarian family has 12 kids and homeschools, another homeschools, and the third has 10 children. What is common about these three families? They are counter-cultural.
In today’s society, there is probably nothing more counter-cultural than a religious vocation. Choosing to be celibate, obedient and poor is the trifecta of counter-cultural choices in the over-sexed, rebellious and materialistic culture of death in which we live. Those who are immersed in our culture are going to have an extremely hard time hearing the call to the religious life, which is why parents need to live in counter-cultural ways. Do your kids watch the same TV shows, wear the same clothes, go to the same schools, have the same number of siblings and entertain themselves the same way as every other child? Not every Catholic family is going to homeschool or have a large number of children, but every Catholic family is called to counter the culture of death in which we live in some way. Along with giving their children a more solid path to holiness, parents may very well be helping to solve the vocations crisis in our country as well.