There are many things that parents can do to develop an attitude of “vocation” in their children. First of all, instead of asking the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” ask “How do you think God wants you to use the gifts and talents He has given you to help others?” In other words, “What does God want you to do when you grow up?” It may be marriage. It may be the single life. It may be the religious life!! It’s a simple but profound shift in thinking – from self will to God’s Will. This is huge!
Secondly, family prayer is critical. Pray before meals, when you get into the car together, when you see an ambulance on the road, before bedtime and any other opportunity you get! In your list of intentions at bedtime prayer, “God bless Grannie, Grandpa…” add an intention for priests and religious. Ask for an increase in religious vocations to the church. This will let your child know that you are open to a religious vocation should he/she have that calling. I’ve heard several priests say that they came from families who prayed the rosary together nightly. That’s probably not a coincidence!
Lastly, think about inviting a priest, brother or nun over for dinner. Our family has had one of our parish priests over for dinner twice. At first, I was a bit nervous thinking that everything we said and did would be scrutinized. It was not like that at all. We enjoyed learning more about this priest’s story and calling from God. He shared lots of good “spiritual food” with us as we ate dinner. Then, the kids took Father to the den to play a game of Wii bowling. It was a riot! They learned that one can be holy and fun at the same time – a really important lesson!