|A mother comes to terms with her son's priesthood in "Vocation Crisis" in America magazine.|
Kristin Grady Gilger faced the same journey that many parents have when finding out their son or daughter has been called to a religious vocation. In her article, "Vocation Crisis," in America magazine, she recounts the shock she and her husband felt after their son, Patrick, told them that he wanted to convert to Catholicism and join the Society of Jesus. She writes, “As a Catholic priest, he would take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—vows that are about as countercultural as you can get in 21st-century America. And even then, he would wait a decade or more before he would be ordained a priest and be allowed to do the things priests aspire to do: say Mass and administer the other sacraments. ...Why would any 20-year-old in his right mind choose a life like that?”
She recalls how she was wondering what she had done wrong and how she and her husband “didn’t even raise him Catholic!” She was angry, frustrated, and felt that her son was throwing away his future, until one friend brought God into the equation. Gilger remembers, “He said something that made me sit back hard in my chair. ‘God has his hands on your family in such a special way,’ he told me gently. Something inside of me shifted when he said those words: It was the first time I had considered whether God had anything to do with it.”
By acknowledging God’s part in the discernment process, she was able to better understand the call her son was feeling, and as her son entered the priesthood and she was able to see firsthand the different ways he was needed and loved, her worries about loneliness began to vanish. She writes, “In fact, he is far less alone than almost anyone I know. He even, on occasion, goes on vacation.”
When it comes to her son, Gilger still worries, as most mothers do, about his future, but by acknowledging the role of God and the joy her son has found in his role as priest, she has come to accept his decision and has recently completed a memoir about how her son’s journey has brought her family back to the Catholic Church.