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GodricOfFinchale

How do I tell my parents about all of this?

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GodricOfFinchale

Hello everyone, I am a young man (20, in my last year of university) who is relatively set on the priesthood - at least I am certain I want to go to seminary to try, and if turns out I am not called, that's fine, but right now I very much want to be a priest. I don't come from a Catholic family, my parents are Anglicans but not very actively practicing. They didn't make a fuss when I converted, but when they found out, my father made a point of getting my assurance I wasn't going to become a priest, which at the time I was able to laugh off because I had plans for marriage back then, but now... well, obviously things have changed. I am intending to enter a house of discernment before the end of the year with the purpose of entering seminary in September 2021 and my family are starting to wonder what I'm going to be doing after I graduate, so I'm really going to have to tell them soon. I really don't know how to go about telling my parents what path I've decided to follow, and while I don't think they will take it well, I'm not sure quite how badly they'll take it. I'm wondering if anyone else here has been in a position similar to my own. I'd be very grateful for any insights anyone has into how to go about this, and please feel free to share stories, that could be very helpful! God bless.

Edited by GodricOfFinchale
clarification

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Luigi

I have no stories, but I do think honesty is the best policy. Tell Mum & Dad what you told us. You're not breaking an assurance because when you assured your father you wouldn't become a priest, it was true - but things have changed. Then you might want to elaborate on what changed, or when. You don't include that here, which is fine, but the parental units may be interested to know. 

Whoever you're talking to at the house of discernment might be able to help you out with this, too, either by recommending a tactic or two, or perhaps by going with you when you tell the pholks. They're more likely to stay on their good behavior with a stranger in the house, no? And it wouldn't have to be a contact at the house of discernment - depending on where you are, you could draft a Benedictine, a Dominican, a Franciscan, or a parish priest - perhaps as a dinner guest along with the pholks. Two heads are better than one...

In the meantime, be assured of St. Philippine Duchesne's intercession - I'm going to assign this case to her continual prayer. (And the woman did know how to pray!) Her father didn't want her to become a nun, but parental permission was required in those days. She convinced her maternal aunt - almost her second mother - to go with her to the convent and say it was okay. 

 

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Sister Leticia

Hello Godric

As Luigi has said, it's best to be honest with your parents, but you need to think carefully about how you present things. Remember that your parents might already feel confused about your conversion, maybe they feel they've "lost" something of you, so to speak, and when you tell them about your desire to enter a seminary, they will without doubt feel they're losing even more. This is especially true if they only know priests through films (often a stereotype) or press reports into abuse and scandals - so introducing them to a friendly, sensitive priest, who is open and honest, as Luigi suggests, will help.

Also, parents can worry about being presented with a kind of fait accompli, eg that their offpsring will make vows the minute they enter, be unable to visit them, reduce contact, be brainwashed etc. They might well worry that if you're unhappy you won't be allowed to leave (or won't allow yourself to leave). When you tell them listen to their concerns and questions, which you can hopefully give reassuring responses to. 

And don't forget - for your benefit as well as theirs - that you're only at the beginning of a long discernment process. So when you tell them, don't say: 

On 4/26/2020 at 2:53 PM, GodricOfFinchale said:

I am intending to enter a house of discernment before the end of the year with the purpose of entering seminary in September 2021

Tell them you will be living in a house of discernment in order to discern what God might be calling you to at this stage in your life. Entering a seminary is one possibility - and there are others. Right now, you feel this strong desire to find out, and to follow whatever God might be calling you to. If your discernment leads you towards applying to a seminary, then you'd like to try and see, as you said in your opening post. Explain to your parents that seminary formation takes several years, with constant, ongoing evaluation and discernment as you progress through the different stages. 

Luigi has commended you to the prayers of St Philippine Duchesne, who was a member of my order. Her life shows that whatever we might start out thinking we're going to do... we often end up doing something else.

She started by entering a cloistered Visitation monastery. Two years later the monastery was closed down due to the French Revolution, and she was back home, active in the underground, clandestine Church for something like 11 years. Later, when things were safer, she tried to reopen the monastery, but that failed. In 1804 she joined our order, which had been founded 4 years before, and started dreaming of becoming a missionary. In 1818 she and a small group crossed the Atlantic to take the Society to the USA, specifically in Missouri. She went with high hopes of working with native Americans - she had to wait until 1841 to be able to do this, by which time her age (72) and ill health meant she had to return to the convent after only one year. Lots of disappointments and discouragements, lots of ideas and plans which never came to fruition... but throughout, Philippine never ceased praying, never ceased wanting only what God wanted. She will be a powerful patron for you.

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Sister Leticia

Thanks Luigi - and thank you for bringing Philippine and her influence into the conversation! 

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GodricOfFinchale

Thank you Luigi and thank you Sister for your help and advice and your prayers! Alas, because of the coronavirus circumstances I don't think I'll be able to get any 'reinforcements' to come round, but I'm feeling more confident about it now.

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gloriana35

Sister Leticia made excellent points! I wonder how many people, even Catholics, realise how many years religious formation takes - or how no-one pushes anyone into the life?

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