Friday, March 19, 2010

God's Call

My mom wrote the following for a talk she's giving to the Ladies' Group at home. I liked it, and wanted to share. (Some bits are taken out that mention some people by their full name.)


Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about my experiences as the mother of a seminarian. Sharing this experience with you is a honor that I accept humbly.

When Michael was considering his decision to discern God's call at seminary, I was given a First Class Relic of St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests. I have brought the relic with me today. I pray that St. John Vianney will lead my words, and through them, bless all the seminarians and priests of our diocese.

Michael has always shown an interest in the priesthood, - always attentive to serving Our Lord and the Church. Never did he miss an opportunity to serve on the altar. From his childhood, Michael's heart was set on becoming a military pilot and then a military chaplain; his world and his education evolved around that goal. Hence, I worked to help him achieve his goal.

Upon high school graduation Michael received a full Naval ROTC scholarship to Auburn University; was selected as an alternate candidate to the United States Coast Guard Academy; and he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. It all seemed too much to hope for, for me especially. I had homeschooled Michael for 12 years and to receive such honors was an incredible achievement.

Days before the Naval Academy appointment letter had to be accepted, Michael grew more and more anxious about his decision. We were on the phone a great deal with the Chaplain at the Academy. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who we know through the Military archdiocese, even called Michael personally to help ease his mind. Finally after a few emotional discussions with me, my husband was in Iraq at the time, Michael decided to request a meeting with our local Bishop. He came out of their meeting at peace. He had decided to act on God's invitation first. However, declining the appointment was one of the hardest things either of us had ever done. It has meant sacrifices for Michael, as well as for our family. Yet, we willingly accept them and support Michael's decision. I knew that God was calling him to serve, I did not expect that path to be at college seminary.

Now, he is in his 3rd out of 8 years of education and formation, yet already our family is a part of the Catholic community in a new way. We are having to learn to be patient and learn to let go in a new way, different from seeing a son go to regular college, yet it is a joy to see Michael in action serving God. - It is a humbling feeling to iron your son's clerical collars and cassocks. Getting those collars white after he has been wearing them for half a semester can be tricky! He is still the same Michael, yet there is something different about him. In a sense, it is like he is in a long engagement to a distant bride. We know God has plans for him.

Besides a full class schedule, Michael plays soccer, football, and basketball; has been class president; performed a leading role in Twelve Angry Men; cantors; and is sacristan for the college division. He has worked in a Day School for the mentally challenged, and currently teaches Religion to 1st and 7th graders in a Philadelphia Diocesan school. He has taken more than the required number of courses, excelled, and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society.

I am proud of him and hope that he will endeavor towards ordination. Every day I ask myself: "why me? How could I possibly deserve this grace?" That fact is that: I don't. Yet, Our Lord in His perfection has been merciful and blessed me and my family beyond any accolades the world can grant. He has given me the opportunity to say: "This part of me is truly for You. I give him to you knowing you will give him back to me a hundred-fold."

The priesthood truly is a man's total giving of himself to God's service. Michael has chosen to pursue this path and our family is humbled by his selfless commitment. We all feel a great sense of anticipation in being able to see Michael prostrate before the bishop and accept his call to the priesthood.

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