My Sons the Seminarians
It is a tremendous joy and blessing to have two sons attending St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington, D.C. Brendan Jr. entered the seminary as part of the new school’s inaugural class in the fall of 2011. James followed him in the fall of 2014.
When Brendan entered, I knew I did not control his vocation and learned to simply let go. I asked the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary to guide him in his discernment and spiritual formation.
Since then, I have not experienced any anxiety about what the future holds for my two sons because God is so evidently with them. My wife, Beth, and I are incredibly joyful as we witness our sons’ response to God’s call. Their openness is truly inspiring. There was a time when I helped teach and guide them in their faith, but now I learn from them — a role reversal that has been both humbling and rewarding.
Some say there is a crisis of vocations, but I believe the real crisis is in responding to the call. With two of my boys on the path to priesthood, I am sometimes asked for my “secret.” I respond that three persons are most responsible — the Holy Spirit, Mother Mary and my wife. Brendan and James were both homeschooled through high school, and my wife was their first and most important catechist. Her love and knowledge of the faith planted the seed, and her wisdom and devotion taught them how to live the faith daily by word and deed. In addition, I cannot overemphasize the importance of family prayer for fostering vocations, whether to the priesthood, religious life or marriage.
About 20 years ago, I first heard the family described as a “domestic church.” This spoke deeply to me and changed how I viewed family life. While I am my sons’ biological father, their creator and spiritual father is the Lord. My role is to pass on the faith to them by instruction and example. When Brendan first told us that he was applying to seminary, my spirit rejoiced. His heavenly Father knew better than I what he should do with his life, and my expectations for him were no longer relevant.
For James, the path was less direct. He entered The Catholic University of America as a physics major, switched to math, and then decided to enter seminary at the end of his junior year while spending a semester in Ireland. While we were aware that he was considering the priesthood, God led James to that decision in his own time, and that fact also brought us much joy.
One thing that has helped to foster our sons’ vocations has been to invite priests and religious into the home. My wife has done this exceptionally well. Her invitations and hospitality to priests and religious sisters resulted in the boys seeing them as ordinary men and women who opened their lives to God’s grace. They didn’t view priests as distant figures on the altar with whom they had no connection; rather, they learned what life as a priest was like, and the extraordinary impact that one man can have on the parish community and beyond.
In the seminary, Brendan and James receive wonderful human and spiritual formation and a solid academic education. They are taught by dedicated priests who inspire them by example, and they share their lives with brother seminarians who are also a source of grace, fellowship and wisdom.
I encourage parents who may be unsure or anxious about how to respond to a child’s interest in the priesthood or religious life to remain confident that the Lord knows what their vocation should be. He will lead them if you prepare and encourage them to respond to the call. Remember what Mary said to the servants at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).
BRENDAN GLASGOW lives in Olney, Md., where he is a member of Father Peter Paul Maher Council 6793. He and his wife, Beth, are the parents of seven children.