From a reader:
Father, I have a close friend who has been as close as a brother to me who is discerning the priesthood. I think he would make a wonderful priest or even religious brother. What steps can I take to encourage him in his path and help him along his way?
Thanks for taking interest in his vocation and not being selfish. Some people might not want to encourage a friend, from fear that he might not be able to see as much of him should he take that path.
That is also a problem, I think, that some parents have. I suspect that God will frown on parents who place obstacles before a son’s a vocation to the priesthood. I’m just sayin’ …
For sure, pray for the guy. Fast for him. Have Masses said for him. The devil, and maybe others, will try to dissuade him from such a path. Also, speak positively about the priesthood when the topic arises in conversation. Be supportive. You support might also extend even to helping with some of the expenses in his formation, although here I must add a cautionary word.
Whenever you give some sort of material or monetary support to a seminarian never never never give the man also the slightest sense that you consider him therefore obliged to continue to Holy Orders if he has arrived at a conclusion that ordination is not for him. Every man must come to that moment of the laying on of hands with a will that is free and not encumbered by the expectations of those whose opinions he holds dear. He shouldn’t be burdened with the expectation that just because someone gave money for x or y or z in his formation, he is therefore obliged to continue, when he knows he should not.
Because of this, if it comes to monetary or material support, you might consider asking a third party to be an intermediary. For example you might give what you want to give to the seminary or the man’s parish, with the understanding that it will be then give to him as from an anonymous donor, and so forth.
I am not here talking about birthday presents or the like. I raise this in case the man has, for example, debts from university that he is still paying off, or his car is a wreck and he needs something new. That sort of thing.
Also, as a concrete sign of solidarity, you might join a local Serra Club, which fosters vocations to the priesthood.
I hope everyone out there will be generous in spirit when it comes to vocations to the priesthood.