Rorate Caeli

NEW SERIES: Vocation stories (part 2)

We recently asked our readers to send us vocation stories to help parents inspire religious vocations in their children. Today, we post our second set of stories. You can find part 1 by clicking the tag "Vocation stories" below. 

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 Fr. Albert Marcello, III, who serves as the Chaplain of the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society, and is a priest of the Diocese of Providence, R.I.

Our diocesan holy card for vocations, dating from the 1950’s, states in bold letters: “A religious vocation is a precious gift from a family to God for His Church.” 

Some of my earliest memories are of attending Holy Mass with my parents and younger brother. During the day, while my parents were working, my brother and I were looked after by my maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles, who are very pious French Canadians. My grandparents taught me my prayers from a little booklet they were given in school entitled “A Jesus Et A Marie Par Sainte Anne”. 

I learned many different aspects of our Catholic Faith from them, as well as from their “Petit Catechisme du Québec”. My mother, herself a daily communicant, taught catechism in our home parish and prayed the Rosary daily on her way to work. My father, without fail, recited his Saint Jude prayer every morning. Catholic education was important to my family and we attended Catholic schools, at great sacrifice particularly to my mother. During my time in grammar school and high school, I remained very close to the Church, often serving Holy Mass. Our family vacations always seemed to include a special trip to a shrine or famous church; often, while visiting family in Montréal, we would visit the shrine of Saint André Bessette and the many beautiful basilicas. During Advent, we would make a visit to the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA to light candles, pray on the Holy Stairs and see the Christmas light displays.

I began to read at a young age and always loved books. In the summer of 1988, when I was five years old, my grandparents gave me my first “grown-up” book, which was the traditional St. Joseph Daily Missal. I recall them teaching me about the structure of the Mass from the diagram on the front page of the Ordinary of the Mass and showing me the pictures of the mysteries of the Rosary and the ecclesiastical year. Our family Bible also had full-color pictures of the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. I remember being rather crestfallen that weekend, when I took the missal to Mass, and the readings and prayers were quite different from what I was expecting from that missal! However, thus began my interest in and love of the Tridentine Rite.

Most priests, I am sure, will agree that it is humbling to bring the Sacraments and preach the Word of God to your family who passed along the Catholic Faith to you. My pathway to the priesthood was not entirely easy. I give thanks every day for the love and prayerful support of my family. Priest family members have a beautiful calling — to imitate Our Lady and St. Joseph in a close way, as they often are our closest confidants and help priests to bear our crosses and share our joys.

Thank you — merci beaucoup — to all of these very special individuals known as the parents and grandparents of priests. 

Story 2: Submitted by Seth and Kristine Stein, parents of Canon Michael Stein, ICRSS.

On 1 July 2018 our son, Canon Michael Stein ICRSS, celebrated the 8th anniversary of his priestly ordination by the hands of His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke. That day eight years ago was the culmination of years of prayers (which of course continue) and sacrifices, trial and tribulations, grief and joy.

Michael is the oldest of our 12 children (8 still living) and like his brothers and sisters he was raised in a loving Catholic home where the One True Faith is central to our thoughts and actions.

All of our children were made aware at an early age that one's state in life has been ordained by God from all eternity and that our job as parents was to find out which one He has chosen for each of them. "Keep your heart open" is a phrase we used often.

Challenges presented themselves early and often, especially when the children began to go to school. We came to realize that protecting the innocence of our children was going to be difficult. We knew society was becoming a moral cesspool so we naturally believed that the local Catholic school would be our refuge. Were we wrong! Sex education was rampant. We fought many battles with school administrators, nuns and priests, losing everyone of them. We moved our family many times in an effort to find a suitable place to educate the children. We home-schooled for many years until we came upon Holy Family Academy in Manassas, Virginia. God sent us a lifeboat.

In our home we established a regular routine. We prayed together everyday -- the family Rosary, morning offering, evening prayers and daily Mass when possible. We went to confession at least every 3-4 weeks. Of vital importance was the family dinner we ate together every night. At the table each child discussed what they learned in school and how their day went. This practice evolved over the years as the children grew up. We began to incorporate serious discussions about current events -- always through the prism of the Catholic Faith. 

Meals ended with closing grace, reading about that day's saint or feast and any special prayer intentions. We also celebrated with cake and candles Our Lady's birthday, St. Joseph's Feast and the patron saints of all the children on their feast days. We incorporated the Church's liturgical calendar into our daily life. No meat on Fridays (we also added Spy Wednesday -- the day of the week Judas betrayed our Divine Lord). But it was always a joy when a first class feast fell on one of those days and we do appreciate Pius XII's American dispensation for allowing meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving!

For over 10 years we trekked every Sunday morning into Washington, D.C. to attend the 9:00 a.m. Traditional Latin Mass at Old St. Mary's Church where 3 of our sons served together on the altar. Thankfully now there are many Traditional Latin Masses available in the Arlington Diocese so that long ride is no longer necessary. And speaking of attending Mass we always wore our Sunday best. Though the boys were serving Mass they still wore a jacket and tie and our daughters always wore dresses of appropriate length and style. And for the girls (including Mom) we had a dresses only policy. No pants...ever. Pants are for men.

Moreover, it was common place for us to have priests and religious to our home on a regular basis. We were blessed to be close friends with the late, great Monsignor Kenneth Roeltgen -- former rector at Mount St. Mary's Seminary. We entertained many seminarians who were excellent examples for our children. Those seminarians are now terrific orthodox priests.

Over the years our children attended various traditional Catholic summer camps, walked pilgrimages in both the United States and Europe, and went to Rome with their senior classes at Holy Family Academy. 

Now let's return a moment to Canon Michael Stein. At an early age he expressed to us that he believed he was going to be a priest. We remember that day very specifically. One of those seminarians who would come to our home had just been ordained to the priesthood -- Father Daniel Mode. He asked Michael if he wanted to serve his first Mass. He did. And after that Mass Michael told us that God called him to be a priest. From that day forward he never wavered from that belief and we did everything we could to foster that vocation.

Finally, we do not want to give the impression that we fully isolated our children from the world. We didn't (nor can anyone). Our children played sports -- all excellent athletes by the way -- had friends (though we guided their associations), went to sporting events and lived "normal" lives. 

However, we instilled in them by word and deed that nothing was more important than the Catholic Faith. And that the Faith is a gift from God -- something to be cherished, protected, lived to its fullest and to die for if necessary. We are happy to report that all of our adult children still practice the Faith with love and vigor -- incorporating in their growing families many of the practices with which they were raised. 

What a great blessing and consolation for us! Deo Gratias.