Talking vocations with a Jesuit (and a kindergartener)

Last week I met a Jesuit who lives in Manhattan. Fr. Fred Pellegrini is a vocation promoter who was visiting Loyola University Maryland, and we ended up sitting down to talk.

“Your vocation isn’t your career,” Fr. Pellegrini told me. “It’s about something much deeper within yourself. You might be a bus driver, and you want to be the best bus driver you can be, but your vocation might be to be a husband and a father.”
As we were talking about vocations to the Jesuits, and how Pope Francis is inspiring men to consider a vocation, Fr. Pellegrini mentioned that one of the challenges is that parents of young men today don’t have many children. They don’t want to lose out on having grandchildren.

I’ve heard that before, but it always surprises me. Grandchildren are absolutely wonderful. But my mother’s uncle was a Jesuit priest. And growing up, I always felt it was an honor to have a priest in our family. So it’s hard for me to see having a child who’s a priest as anything but a positive.
I asked my new Jesuit friend what I should do as a parent to promote vocations in our home. We should just let our children know it’s an option, he said.
We do try to do that.

John and I have mentioned to our sons that they might find God wants them to be priests. We also talk about how they might like to be astronauts or farmers or construction workers or teachers or firefighters or scientists. But being a priest is definitely one of the options we’ve discussed, probably because our boys respect and talk about the priests they see in action at Mass.
At 6, however, the biggest obstacle for Leo is that a priest can’t be married.
“I don’t want to be a priest because I don’t want to be alone,” he told his father the other day, “but I will always be a Christian.”
I suspect even men who have outgrown their booster seats would have something similar to say.
Still, as I sat there listening to Fr. Pellegrini, full of joy and on fire with enthusiasm for his vocation, I realized I had a question.
“What do you love about being a Jesuit?” I asked him. He didn’t even need to stop to think.
“I get to be the best possible version of myself,” he said, “and I get to talk about Jesus.”
No wonder he’s so happy.
Here’s a list from the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops: Top Ten Things to Promote Vocations.

What are you doing to promote vocations in your home and your community?

I’m writing 7 posts in 7 days this week! Read other bloggers who have taken on the same challenge, and stop by to see my fellow Catholic Review blogger Patti Murphy Dohn at “God Is in the Clouds”!

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