Rorate Caeli

NEW SERIES: Vocation stories (part 1)

We recently asked our readers to send us vocation stories to help parents inspire religious vocations in their children. Today, we post our first two stories.

We asked our older readers who have produced a priest, a monk or a nun, and did so deliberately (not just lucked out!), to send us their stories. We want to pass on to our readers what they did on a daily basis to foster that vocation that our younger parent readers can emulate. And for our priest, monk or nun readers whose parents led them to their vocations, to send that story to us as well. 

Please consider sending us your vocation story as well! These submissions can but don't have to be terribly long -- but should be lengthy enough for our readers to take away concrete ideas and wisdom to get to work on real, tangible action items. We're looking more for "we talked to them every day about how to discern a vocation and to say this prayer" than "we kept the faith in the home." Be specific! 

Send your submissions to athanasiuscatholic AT and we will consider them quickly. And, if needed, we will post them anonymously. Just indicate that in your email.

Story 1: Submitted by the parents of Sr. Gabrielle of Our Lady of Sorrows Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Elysburg, Pa.

From the very beginning my parents tried to surround me with good and truth. Being homeschooled, I always had my mother’s virtuous example before my eyes. After her conversion, soon followed by my father’s, the dual impact of my parents’ good example increased.

Once we became Catholic, I read the lives of the saints over and over again, steeping my imagination in these stories and cultivating a desire for the salvation of souls. Whether giving nearly everyone I knew a miraculous medal or playing ‘the children of Fatima’ at the church playground, my interest in the saints was evident, and, as prayer life was so important to the saints, so too, was it in our lives.

My mother saw to it that we set aside a part of each morning for mental prayer, prayed the rosary daily as a family, and attended Mass several times a week. These were all very beneficial spiritual exercises, but once we discovered the beauty of the Latin Mass, the spiritual life and all our usual devotions took on an even more attractive appearance.

This marked a tremendous change in my life; I cannot express how much I learned from the beautiful, ancient traditions of Holy Mother Church. From this exposure came my attraction to the religious life. For several years, my interest in the religious life grew.

Once we moved to the country, my attraction to the religious life quickly developed into a love of the contemplative life. There in the rural solitude it was so much easier to pray, and, all of a sudden, the cloister made sense. My deepening prayer life also helped in this. In reading ‘The Catholic Girl’s Guide’ by Father Xavier Lasance, I found the perfect stepping stone for building the strong prayer life needed in this world, as well as preparation for the religious life.

Then I began the search for the right contemplative order. After consulting my pastor and parents, I wrote to three different communities, praying that God would show me His will. Upon receiving the three replies, there was one that was particularly attractive: the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Elysburg, Pa. I had such peace and interest in this Carmel that I wondered if it might not be wise to search further. Again, taking the holy advice offered to me, I followed my heart, discontinued my search and let God teach me about Carmel.

After a few months of correspondence with the mother prioress, I visited Carmel and fell head over heels in love with it. The Carmelite life of prayer, love and sacrifice; poverty, chastity and obedience; in silence, solitude and enclosure; for the salvation of souls, especially priests and sinners – was this not heaven on earth? Above all, I wanted to think of and love Our Lord all the time, giving myself completely to Him.

In the meantime, two years of correspondence and prayer passed by, and once I completed high school, the entrance date was set. Yes, it will be heartbreaking to leave my loved ones, but only with Christ will I find true peace, joy and love.

Christ has led me to Carmel. If this is truly His will for me, He will give me all the necessary graces.

Story 2: Submitted by Fr. Mark Carrier, Diocese of Arlington, Va. 

I am a Catholic Priest in the Diocese of Arlington, VA.  

My mother told me, shortly after my ordination to the Priesthood, nineteen years ago, that when she first held me after I was born, she prayed, “Lord, here is your priest!” 

She must have prayed for my vocation earnestly because my earliest memories are of watching the Mass from the vantage point of the organ loft where my Dad played, and thinking, That is what I want to do!  

When I was four or five, I asked my mother, What is it that the Priest does at Mass?  She thought a moment and replied, “When the Priest is on the altar, he is very close to Jesus.”  I thought to myself, That’s what I want for me.  And I never thought otherwise. 

I would say to parents, especially mothers, offer your children to God as Priests or religious when they are still infants.  Don’t ever put any pressure on them as they grow — my parents didn’t  — but let them grow, and nourish them with your own deep love of God. 

If your sons are called to the Priesthood, the offering will pave the way for them.  My mother died a few days ago, and she was buried with the white cloth given me to wipe my hands after the bishop anointed them during my ordination Mass.