A reflection on walking the journey to the priesthood with your son by Judy Murphy, mother of Rev. Christopher J. Murphy, who was ordained June 23, 2012. Ms. Murphy shared this reflection following his ordination.
“First of all I’d like to thank all of you for joining us in celebrating the ordination to the priesthood of our son Christopher James, now Father Murphy. As you might expect I am very proud of him. Answering the call to the priesthood is not easy in today’s secular world. Material goods, personal happiness and a quest for success often consume more of our thoughts than developing a relationship with God and caring for others. I believe that without God at the center, money, personal fulfillment and career success will not bring lasting joy.
“For me, walking along this journey to the priesthood with Chris has brought me closer to God. Despite some tribulations along the way, knowing that God is always there with me has helped me to survive and thrive. I’ve loved praying the Liturgy of the Hours with Chris. These readings have helped me to really appreciate the love that God has for us. Men like Chris, Ryan, Frank and all of the other fine seminarians I met in Rome and at Saint John’s seminary who answered God’s call, give me such hope for the Church in these turbulent times. I have no doubt that with God’s help, Chris and the two other new priests will touch the minds, hearts and souls of many in the years ahead.
“My pride and joy in Chris is not limited to Chris alone. There is no greater joy for a mother than to see her children find their passion and pursue it relentlessly. I have been truly blessed by God in my children who have all been called to serve Him in
different ways…I am so proud of all three. I am humbled by the gifts I have been given by God in Gerald, Christopher and Alicyn. I thank God every day for the blessings and joys I’ve experienced in my family.
“So I will end like I began. I’d like to thank all of you again. Just as Chris has touched others, you have greatly touched him and our family. Each of you has contributed in some way to Chris’ strength in his vocation. Your prayers, encouragement, questions, and joy have shown us the beauty and connectedness of our Church community. Without a doubt there is no greater beauty than the love that God has for his people.”
Parenting a Vocation to the Priesthood
by Rev. Carl Fisette, Pastor of St. Joseph, Woonsocket
“Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward” (Ps 127:3). Parents are filled with such joy and at the birth of their child and rightfully so since children are “a gift from the Lord.” You want the best for them. You care for them and help them to grow and mature as human persons and as Christians. You are their first catechist.
Recognizing that parents are the first teachers of the faith, Blessed John Paul II noted that parents and extended families have a significant role in fostering vocations to the priesthood. He stated:
A very special responsibility falls upon the Christian family, which by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony shares in its own unique way in the educational mission of the Church – teacher and mother. As the synod fathers wrote: “The Christian family, which is truly a ‘domestic Church’ (Lumen Gentium, 11), has always offered and continues to offer favorable conditions for the birth of vocations…Families themselves, generously accepting the gift of human life, may be ‘as it were, a first seminary’ (Optatam Totius, 2) in which children can acquire from the beginning an awareness of piety and prayer and love for the Church. (Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 41)
Along with this unique responsibility that parents have in fostering vocations can come conflicting emotions and concerns about encouraging their own son to consider and respond to a call to the priesthood. It is only natural because you have questions and you want what is best for your son. Children are such a precious gift from the Lord and all the varying emotions and reactions that parents experience are based on their love for their child. Some parents will be enthusiastic and will wish that their son could be ordained tomorrow; other parents actively discourage a vocation to the priesthood, fearing that their son will be lonely or will not achieve success in the eyes of the world; and most parents’ reaction will fall somewhere in between. Even the saints faced the gamut of reactions from their own families.
Will your son make sacrifices if he is ordained a priest? Yes—but a greater sacrifice for him would be to ignore God’s call since the vocation to which God is calling us is where we will find our greatest joy and fulfillment. There are sacrifices in each and every Christian vocation just as there are blessings.
Husbands and wives make sacrifices for one another and the good of their marriage; parents make sacrifices (great and small) throughout their children’s lives. Our society often views chaste celibacy as a great sacrifice; priests and religious see chaste celibacy as a great gift which allows us to freely love God and neighbor because this is how God is calling us to live.
Will you, as a parent, make sacrifices if your son is ordained a priest? Perhaps. You may not have grandchildren or someone to carry on the family name (there is also no guarantee that you will have these things if your son is not a priest), you may be concerned about who will care for you as you get older or if you will see your son as often. These are reasonable and valid questions and concerns. Will you receive blessings if your son follows his vocation to the priesthood? Yes! Jesus assures His disciples that they will receive much more than they sacrifice in order to follow His will. This promise applies to all His disciples—not only those who are called to a religious vocation. Recall Jesus words, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive [back] an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come” (Luke 18:29-30, emphasis added).
What is Prayer
Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us. Therefore, prayer is not merely an exchange of words, but it engages the whole person in a relationship with God the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit . Prayer in the Life of One Discerning a Call to the Priesthood.
As prayer is fundamental in the life of the priest, so is it also central in the life of one who is discerning God’s call to the priesthood. Each priest is a man who is called by God to serve Him in the particular vocation of the ministerial priesthood. But we can only hear a call if we are listening and praying, that conversation with God is the way in which we listen to His voice.
Not everyone prays the same way and there is no one specific way to pray. The first step is always to do it! Make the time to pray and find a quiet place, perhaps in a church or adoration chapel or follow Jesus’ command to “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.” Mt 6:6-7