Is Your Son Being Called to the Priesthood?

Many parents ask their children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Perhaps the more relevant question is, “What plan or purpose does God have for your life?” God is the author of our lives and therefore, He is the principal authority on why He has created us and what purpose He has in mind for each soul. Parents, therefore, have a serious responsibility to assist their children to discern their unique vocation. The resources on this page are intended to help parents understand their irreplaceable role in discernment and to give some guidance on where parents can find answers to their questions on vocational discernment.

What is a Vocation?

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin root vocare, meaning “to call.” As we are created in God’s image and likeness, the generic “vocation” of every person is to love as God loves– loving God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. This is further specified and fulfilled in two more particular vocations: the natural vocation to Holy Matrimony or the supernatural vocation to celibacy. Most are called to marriage and family life. Seminarians often admit they sense a desire for a wife and children. However, God has created some men to reflect on earth the wholehearted love of God, which we discover in the priesthood and consecrated life.


A Man Hears His Own Call

You want the best for your son because you love your son. But God loves him more because your son belongs first to God. Parents play an indispensable role in praying for their children and helping them seek the will of God in their lives. It’s nearly impossible for you to know with certainty what God wants for your son. Your approval is very important to him, but you cannot decide your son’s future for him. It is important that you neither coerce your son in pursuing the priesthood because you want him to be a priest, nor discourage him from the priesthood because you want him to pursue another seemingly more successful path in the world.


Your Support Is Important

If your son expresses an interest in the priesthood, be supportive. In the book To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood, Fr. Brett Brannen describes the ideal parent as one who is at peace with God’s will. The goal of entering the seminary is not to become a priest, but to pursue the will of God—which for most young men who enter the seminary, is the priesthood. College seminary provides the most conducive environment to discern the priesthood, including an atmosphere rich in silence, daily prayer, spiritual direction, and excellent formation in the virtues that transform a boy into a man.

Parents' Perspectives on Having a Son in Seminary

Fred and Amy Goduti
Carlton and Jennifer Murrey
Steve and Susan Brock
Can I visit my son at the seminary?
Family members are always welcome. Visitations are typically held in the drawing room, solarium, or refectory. Weekends are more suitable times for visitation as the weekday schedule does not provide much spare time. Dads are welcome to attend any event at any time and are invited to stay in the guest room.
Will my son have to live far from our family?
Our college seminary is currently located in Charlotte, but will move to its permanent home in Belmont in January 2020. After college, seminarians advance to major seminary to study theology and continue priestly formation. Upon ordination, your son will be assigned to a parish or appointment in our Diocese.
Once my son enters the seminary, can I call him?
Of course, you are welcome to call your son anytime! However, after Night Prayer, grand silence is observed with no unnecessary talking, music, or phone calls until after breakfast the following day. This time is used for study, prayer, and rest. Cell phones are placed on the front desk before Night Prayer and retrieved after Morning Prayer the next day.

How much is SJCS?
Who pays for everything?

The average cost of a college seminarian’s education is approximately $40,000 per year, including tuition, room and board, health insurance, and books. At St. Joseph College Seminary, the Diocese of Charlotte pays the room and board costs, one-third of their college tuition, and a modest allowance for books. The seminarian and his family are required to fund the rest of his college expenses, which could include scholarships, financial aid, and student loans. However, a lack of finances should never prevent someone from responding to God’s call to religious life or the priesthood.

What if my son changes his mind?

Freedom is the foundation upon which vocational discernment is built. If a man is not free to leave the seminary, then he is not free to stay. The college seminary formation program is intended to be rigorous so as to test a young man’s resolve and determination to accomplish God’s will. Every aspect of seminary formation is also intended to provide support for the seminarian to discern whether God is, in fact, inviting him to lay down his life to become a priest. If a seminarian and/or the formation faculty have determined that a man is not called to the priesthood, he is free to leave the seminary.

My son has questions;
what should I do?

Sometimes, discerning young men ask challenging questions that aren’t easily answered! Your son should feel free to direct these questions to his pastor, parish priest, the diocesan promoter of vocations (Fr. Jason Barone), or the diocesan vocations director (Fr. Christopher Gober). Young men who are more seriously discerning college seminary should contact Fr. Barone to schedule a visit to St. Joseph College Seminary. Spending a day at the seminary and interacting with our formators and current seminarians is one of the best ways to see life in the seminary is really like.

Additional Resources for Parents

Diocese of Charlotte Vocations Webpage


USCCB Parent Resources and FAQs


Diocesan Priest Discernment Page


Vocation Boom Cultivating Vocations


Many Parents Encourage Their Sons to Attend Quo Vadis Days

Quo Vadis Days is a 5-day retreat for young men ages 15-19 to help them answer the question, “What is God’s Plan for my life?” Your son will spend time with and hear talks from current seminarians and priests to find out what life in the seminary and priesthood are really like. Ultimately, the goal of Quo Vadis Days is to provide your son the tools and the opportunity to discern God’s will for his life. About 85 men attended last year, and 18 of our 20 current seminarians once attended Quo Vadis Days.
“Do not be afraid of the holy vocation that has come down from heaven to rest upon your children. If you have faith in God and his Church, is it not a comfort and joy to see your own son at the altar clothed with the priestly vestments, offering the sacrifice of the Mass and praying for his mother and father?”
Pope Pius XII, March 25, 1942