What was the reaction of St. John Marie Vianney's parents when he told them he wanted to be a Priest?
St. John Vianney was the fourth of eight brothers. Like many other saints, St. John came from very Christian parents. His father owned a farm and his mother was a native of the village of Ecully, located close to the city of Lyons. Since childhood his parents would take him to the farm where he learned to be a shepherd. In these long hours of work, he received the conviction to be a Priest. He said to himself: "If I'm a Priest I can win many souls for God." He shared this thought with his mother, who offered her support, but his father gave him great struggles. Two years passed before his father accepted his son's inspiration to be a Priest.
Whether we are young or old we are always children of our parents. Although we do not always want to listen to them, what they say is important to us. The following reflections of parents of seminarians and Priests will help you see their perspective on their son's discernment. Pay attention particularly to how the parents' lives were affected by their son's decision.
Larry and Sharon Lonergan are the parents of Kevin Lonergan, who is a priest.
Parent Perspective: How did your son's decision to enter the seminary affect your own Catholic Faith?
Our Catholic faith has been made more prayerful and enriched by Kevin's decision to enter the seminary. We have also come to realize the humanness behind the vestments and the collar of a Priest.
We have become more active in our parish liturgies and other activities. The power of prayers and the answers to them are more focused on our son and the other men who are discerning God's call to His Priesthood. We hope that when parishioners see us, they pray for our son and for an increase of others to follow on his path to Holy Orders. Our diocese has seen restructuring because of a lack of Priests to serve so many Catholics. We need many more men to sacrifice their lives to keep Christ's life meaningful to the faithful.
Getting to know more Priests and seminarians has given us a beautiful, real-life picture of the wonderful human beings that are our present and future Priests. We feel that if we support our clergy and Kevin's peers and mentors, then, one day, other parents will show the same charity to our son as he represents the Son of God here on earth.
With daily prayers for an increase of vocations to the Priesthood and consecrated life, we are Larry and Sharon Lonergan.
Wayne and Patricia Searles are the parents of Mark Searles, who is a priest for the Diocese of Allentown.
Parent Perspective: Was it a surprise for you that your son desires to be a priest?
Mark has always had a very strong faith. After he made his First Penance and First Communion, you could not keep Mark out of the confessional. Not that he committed that many sins, he just loved the Sacrament of Penance. Every week we would go to mass and Mark would ask us if it would be alright if he went to confession. Father John Sheridan would love to see Mark in his confessional. Father commented to us that he has never seen a child go to confession as often as Mark did.
Mark's faith grew stronger with each passing year. As soon as he was eligible Mark became an altar server. He would be first to volunteer if someone didn't show up to serve mass. He especially like to serve the Forty Hours, Christmas and Easter services.
St. Jane's, Notre Dame and the University of Scranton all hold a special place in Mark's heart. Mark attended many retreats throughout his school years and worked in campus ministry. He was the master of ceremonies for his baccalaureate mass at the University of Scranton. Our pastor, Monsignor Radocha, as well as several of our parish priests have been great role models for Mark.
Mark's faith and devotion to our Lord is truly a gift. He is filled with joy and is very happy with his decision to love and serve our Lord. We are blessed that God has given us this grace by calling our son to follow Him. We are not at all surprised by Mark's decision to become a priest. We support this decision and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide him on his faith journey.