Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 14, 2010
Priests' mothers nurture sons' vocations
Prayers, support, guidance from mother gives powerful strength to a man's vocation formation
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - As a model for human interaction, a mother's unconditional love for her son, her nurturing, is what leads men to become priests.
Father Leonard Gartner told his dying mother that he wanted to become a priest. His mother was at peace with his intentions. Blessed with a mother who loved the priesthood, he said, "My vocation was born within the family."
When in Grade 3, Father Nilo Macapinlac indicated to his mother that he would be a priest someday. Through her support, he fulfilled that childhood promise. Magdalena Macapinlac told the WCR at her son's 2005 ordination that she allowed him to follow his heart.
Father Marc Cramer, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Wetaskiwin, credits his mother for introducing him to the Catholic faith - twice.
Although raised a Catholic, Cramer left the Church when 16 years old and turned to Mormonism. He was a Mormon for about 12 years, baptized when 18 in the Mormon Church. He did not return to the faith of his parents, the Catholic faith, until his late 20s.
"If not for her, I would never have found my Catholic faith," he said.
Colette Cramer said that her son's return to Catholicism was a blessing and she is proud of his decision.
"I firmly believe in the Catholic Church. I was glad when he got out of the Mormon Church. He was not the same person when he was with them. When he came back to the Catholic Church, he went back to being the same son I used to know," she said.
When he declared his intention to become a priest, she supported him wholeheartedly. He was ordained in June 2006.
HAPPY AND SURPRISED
"I was happy for him becoming a priest because he found what he wanted. I was surprised a little bit, but not really. He was always sort of bent towards that direction, so I was happy he finally made the decision. I know that he is well-suited for it too," she said.
"I believe that children can make their own decisions when they get to a certain age. Really, all I did was just encourage him to follow his dreams."
Father Patrick Baska, the archdiocese's vocations director, told the WCR that family is the seedbed for vocation. A mother creates the vocations environment through prayer, church attendance and their attitudes towards the priesthood.
Baska described his own mother as a leader of the household in terms of prayer and faith. When he approached her about his desire to become a priest, her response was "joy and gladness and thanksgiving to God."
As any Catholic mother should, her aim was to form her sons in the ways of faith, love for the Church and love for Jesus.
"She supports me in prayer, first and foremost, and in human ways too. She is always mom to me. Anytime I come to visit she's happy to see me, welcomes me and gets me a cup of tea, prepares a meal, that sort of thing. She always did. There's no real change in that regard," said Baska.
He has witnessed few instances where parents actively dissuaded their children from entering the religious life. Soon there will be a renewed emphasis on vocation and people striving to find what God is asking of them, he said.
"With parents, I would say it's mostly ignored. It's not something that's even on the radar. Everything else is there, whether it's academics or sports-mindedness, or some professional or trades job, the grandchildren factor and all these natural expectations," said Baska.
"But in terms of vocation itself, whether it's priesthood, religious life, consecrated or even marriage for that matter, I kind of wonder how much influence parents are putting on their children."
Father Len Cadieux, pastor of Edmonton's Assumption Parish, said that his mother was influential on his decision to become a priest.
"The rest of the family, after I went initially into the seminary, they didn't know how to handle me. They were all scared. For example, they had to watch their language around me," he said.
His mother has 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, so carrying on the family name was never a factor in his decision to become a priest.
"She did not have any problem with not having any more grandchildren because she already had plenty of them," said Cadieux.
Even now, 21 years after his priestly ordination, his mother continues supporting him in his chosen vocation, praying for him every day.
Denise Cadieux-Couturier always believed that her son was going to be a lawyer. But since he enjoyed being an altar server and the priesthood was an excellent vocation, she was comfortable with his choice.
The schools in those days talked more about the religious life, and encouraged boys to consider the priesthood, a trend she hopes returns.
"The only question I did ask him was the day before we went to the rehearsal for the ordination: 'Are you sure this is what you want to do?' I didn't want to see him leaving after. He was positive, so I told him, 'You've got my blessing -go for it," said Cadieux-Couturier.
She lives in Sherwood Park, but tries to attend Mass at her son's parish at least once a month.
"I try to sit and be a parishioner once in awhile at his parish. I support him 100 per cent, and I had no problems with it because it's a good vocation.
"Because I do so much work with the Church in Sherwood Park, I know exactly how much work they have to do. You have to encourage them and be there for them," said Cadieux-Couturier.
She concluded, "As a single mother, I've been blessed. My kids have gotten good jobs. They are policemen, custom agents and the oldest son is a carpenter. I have been blessed and I can't complain. My children are good to me."
Father Leo Hoffman, pastor at St. Michael's Parish in Leduc, had supportive parents as well. He was a teacher before entering the seminary and was ordained 21 years ago. Both parents were happy with his decision to enter the priesthood.
"They took the approach of doing whatever makes you happy. That was their approach to everything with all of their children. They were supportive with all of their kids," said Hoffman.
Again, having grandchildren and carrying on the family name were not factors. Hoffman has five brothers and four sisters, so there were already grandchildren aplenty.
"I know there were some people I studied with whose parents did not want their sons to be priests. They were very open that they did not want it.
"If my parents weren't supportive, would I have done it anyway? I think probably, yes. I definitely think their support has been helpful, then as well as now," said Hoffman.
His father has since died, while his mother continues supporting him even now through prayer, listening, loving and caring - like any good mother does for her children.
POWER OF PRAYER
Mark Zazula, a Ukrainian Basilian priest serving at St. Basil's Parish in Edmonton, told the WCR in a 2009 interview that mothers have a lot to do with everything their children become. His mother was always asking the Lord for one of her children to be a priest.
"The power of prayer, the mothers who really care for their children, with good Christian faith, they really have a tremendous power for the Lord and what happens for their kids," said Zazula.
"In my 47 years of priesthood, I have seen this happen many times. I think that vocations to spiritual life to a large degree are God's blessing for a mother's prayer."
His mother continued praying for Zazula until her death at age 97.
Of the great need for more priests, Zazula repeated Jesus' message of workers needed in the vineyard - many are called but few are chosen.
"Maybe they don't have a mother praying for them like I did."
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