We think our son has a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. What should we do now?

Parents have the central role in the lives of their children. The home environment should be positive and orderly. Extremes should be avoided. An overly strict household tends to smother the natural happiness and flexibility of family life. A household with insufficient structure allows chaos to reign. Every child should know that he is loved and supported, regardless of which vocation he chooses to follow. Care should be taken, however, to avoid pressuring a child toward a specific vocation.

Conversely, it is harmful to be hostile toward a specific vocation. Fundamentally, we all belong to God, and the best possible life for us will be that to which He calls us. Friends, books, music, television, computers, and smartphones have a great influence on young people. Anything harmful to children’s innocence or virtue should be kept from them – and any good influence should be encouraged and maintained in the family environment. Encourage them to read good books, including the lives of the Saints. Good video productions of the lives of the Saints are also recommended.

For older children who are interested in a vocation, explain to them what an orthodox seminary or convent should be and help them to research the more promising communities. The group they join will decide what kind of priest or religious they will become, and so the choice must be made very carefully. Above all, pray for God’s guidance! Our Lord said “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest.” The family Rosary should be a daily occurrence, and this is most easily managed if it is prayed at a set time (e.g. immediately after dinner). Attending daily Mass, if possible, has a very good effect on children. Making confession available to them on a regular basis (without obliging them to go) helps to instill virtue.