Brother Priests - Fr. Patrick and Fr. John Burns

“The pastoral care of vocations needs to involve the entire Christian community in every area of its life. Obviously, this pastoral work on all levels also includes exploring the matter with families, which are often indifferent or even opposed to the idea of a priestly vocation. Families should generously embrace the gift of life and bring up their children to be open to doing God's will. In a word, they must have the courage to set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, showing them how deeply rewarding it is.”

Pope Benedict XVI


My Son is Thinking about Priesthood

As a parent, you try to instill values, to encourage your children in the pursuit of positive goals, and to assure them of your unconditional love. The first step is understanding the differences between your experiences and theirs.

Decision-making typically involves seeking the advice of others. Your encouragement is part of a bigger picture. Your son will talk with a vocation director in the process of deciding whether or not to apply to a seminary or religious order. Friends may provide advice and feedback. A vocation to priesthood is a gift from God, which is discerned, discovered and affirmed by an individual and the Church.

A priest dedicates himself to a life of service to God's people. By living a celibate life, he is free to respond to peoples' needs without being torn between commitments to a nuclear family and the larger family of God. A commitment to priesthood forever makes sense because, at ordination, a man is changed forever. In the sacrament of Holy Orders, a priest is ordained to act in the person of Christ Jesus. A priest cannot put on and take off this identity any more than Jesus could be just a spokesperson for God, nine to five, until retirement.

As a parent, you have the responsibility and blessing to help your children discover their vocation. Selflessly encourage your son to respond to his call!


Frequently Asked Questions

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  What is the role of parents in encouraging vocations?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Vocations defined the primary role of parents as providing "authentic witness to the importance of faith, prayer and service to others." The first step is to give children an awareness of the nature of a vocation (a calling from God). After that, the role of parents is one of inviting their sons to ask whether God might be calling them to priesthood. 

  What are some things parents can do to help their children discover God's will in their lives?

Parents are crtitical in fostering a child's response to a call to priesthood. A parent's first and foremost responsibility is the work of praying for their sons, that they may live holy and devout Catholic lives. Additionally mothers and fathers ought to often discuss vocations, especailly priesthood and religious life. Parents must live so as to foster thier children's personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the High Priest. Ask  your son, "have you ever thought about being a priest?"

  How can parents talk about priesthood when they themselves are not priests?

The call to marriage and the call to preisthood have similarities. Talk to your sons about how you discovered God's purpose in your life. How did you know that you were called to marriage? What about your career? Do you regard your work as a calling or a way you strive for holiness? For example, if you are a teacher or a physician, do you believe that you are doing God's work by serving your students or patients as best you can? If it is appropriate, teach you children from your mistakes. What would you do differently? You don't need to have all the answers. Read with your sons stories of saints, men and women who gave everything of themselves to life and share the Gospel with the world. Introduce your sons to admirable priests that you know. 

  As a parent, if I encourage my child to consider a Church vocation and it eventually doesn't work out, wouldn't it have been better to stay out of things in the first place?

Point out qualities in your children that apply to priesthood. Affirm them! Tell them that you see the generosity that shines forth in situations ranging from helping a younger sibling with homework to sticking up for a classmate on the playground. Commend their leadership qualities and teach them that Church leadership is one of the ways a natural leader can give of himself.

Resources for Families

  • Discuss how God gives clues about what He wants people to do with their lives.  Use your own experience of the call to marriage and family life.  Did you ever consider religious life?  Do you think that the example of spouses who make a lifetime commitment to each other can serve as a helpful example to young people considering a lifetime commitment to being a priest, religious brother or sister?
  • As a family, include a short vocations prayer when you pray before meals. For example, you could pray for current seminarians, for people preparing to be religious brothers or sisters, for deacons, or for young people figuring out what they might want to do with their lives. You also may want to read our seminarian biographies to see photos and short biographical information about the current seminarians preparing for ordination as priests for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and then pray for them by name.
  • Talk about positive experiences you have had with priests or sisters regarding things that inspired you. Do you remember the priest at your wedding? What about the priest who baptized your children? Was there a sister who taught academic lessons, but also taught about dedication to God when you attended a Catholic school? Did Mother Teresa's life among the poorest of the poor inspire you, even though you never met her personally?
  • Discuss your own vocation to family life, explaining that God calls some people to priesthood or religious life and some to marriage. You can talk about vocations firsthand.
  • Affirm the gifts and talents of your children, and help them relate their gifts to various career and life choices (including priesthood and religious life).
  • Use events going on in the world and in your children's lives to introduce the idea that each of us is called to live a holy life. What does that mean for a child who sees a classmate being teased to the point of tears on the playground? Does your teenager need encouragement to attend a week-long mission experience during the summer? Do your children understand that, as an adult, your faith has an impact on how you vote? 

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