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How can I keep my sons interested in the priesthood without being pushy?

Susie asks:

My 9 year old son CJ is an altar boy. He told me he really enjoys being an altar boy and maybe some day he might want to become a priest. How can I begin to prepare him for this and how can I help him keep his interest in wanting to become a priest. I know he is only 9 and he may loose interest along the way but is there something I can do to help keep him interested without being overwhelming or pushy?

Dear Susie,

One thing you have to keep in mind (and it's amazing how often we forget it, but it certainly brings us a lot of peace) is that if God is calling us he is definitely going to give us enough signs for us to recognize the fact. Otherwise, he would be very impractical for someone so intelligent!

But another truth is this: it's a call, not a kidnapping. Since he is interested in our love he is not going to force us. There you have the whole problem. He generally has a light touch when it comes to revealing to us the path he has chosen for us.

Now what types of signs does God usually send to the person he calls?

First he gives them the natural qualities that are needed for the particular call he has in mind—of course, we do have to do our part and develop them: health, intelligence, ability to relate to people, etc..

Then he gives the supernatural qualities (faith, hope, love, etc...) which we also have to develop.

And finally he supplies some trigger, something that makes us ask if we are called, something that will open our heart and mind to the vocation (it can be the example of a priest we know, the suggestion of a friend or teacher... any number of things, even the thought itself that one day pops into our mind unbidden and makes us ask the question).

From there on out he expects and needs our cooperation. We have to put our energies into it. What I wrote to another inquirer might be of help to you if you want to move forward in this regard:

"What should you do now? Continue to develop your life of faith through prayer and the sacraments. Continue to learn more about your faith. Reading books that will help you in this will help your faith mature from feelings to convictions, truths that you can live by and to which you can turn to find your way. Then do something new: take a step. Talk about your thoughts to a priest you trust - he will ask you about yourself, your health, your faith journey, your past, and your answers will help him to give you advice. He will be able to tell pretty soon if there is a reason for you not to pursue the priesthood. Then, if none surface, visit a seminary or check out a religious order you might have heard about and are interested in."

Take care, and happy searching!

God bless,

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