Father Angel Quitalig is pictured with his family when he was ordained in 1998.
New study highlights family influences on religious vocations
November 3rd, 2015
By Valerie Schmalz
Father Angel Quitalig didn’t learn until after he was ordained that his father had started praying specially for him right after his younger self called his parents to notify them he was leaving seminary studies.
After three years, Father Quitalig returned to the seminary and was ordained in 1998. “I learned after my ordination, my father really prayed for my vocation,” said Father Quitalig, now a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, in residence at Mater Dolorosa Parish in South San Francisco. Father Quitalig, the fifth of six children, remembers sleeping on the pews as his mother and grandmother attended early morning Mass in the Philippines. But the discovery about his father, who he did not see as particularly religious, was “my greatest story, in my vocation story. My dad really prayed.”
The influence of families on a young person’s willingness to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is vast, a new study published in August concluded.
Family prayers, the practice of attending Mass at least weekly, eating family meals together and saying grace before meals, active participation in parish life, religious articles and art in the home, discussion of faith and the openness of family members to the possibility of a religious vocation as well as spending time together having fun are all factors in nurturing vocations to religious life, according to a new study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate commissioned by the National Religious Vocation Conference.
“The study confirmed what we’ve known instinctively: Families are the seedbed of vocations,” says conference executive director Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk. “Our goal is to help Catholic parents understand their crucial role in the future of religious life and ordained ministry and encourage them to create a culture of vocations within their families.”
“What surprised me was that close to half of these men and women religious and priests said that starting a conversation with their family member about their vocation was not easy for them,” said Mary Gautier, a study author and CARA senior researcher. “But if a family member had already brought up the subject in some previous conversation, it was not hard to start a conversation.”
“How many parents even think to say, ‘Maybe God is calling you’? Parents typically don’t even think about that,” Gautier said.
The “2015 NRVC/CARA Study on the Role of the Family in Nurturing Vocations” focused on the influence of families on the discernment of a vocation to religious life and the priesthood. The goal of the research was to provide information to help families promote vocations to religious life and the priesthood.
CARA surveyed 2,174 men and women religious and 4,140 diocesan priests and seminarians who entered since 2000 and asked for contacts for family members. CARA received completed responses from 1,279 men and women religious and 1,352 diocesan priests and seminarians for a response rate of 59 percent and 33 percent, respectively, and 892 family members, for a response rate of 58 percent. Another 15 family members participated in one of two focus groups, held in Washington, D.C., and in Chicago in May 2015
The Faller family of Novato’s experience appears to bear out anecdotally the importance of family. “We really didn’t do much. I swear the Blessed Mother took over and helped a lot. Thank goodness,” said Bonnie Faller, whose son Cameron Faller was ordained to the priesthood in June. Another son is discerning his vocation at St. Patrick Seminary & University. The other two sons are married.
“They were busy and physical and they were all in sports,” Faller said. “The boys made their choice on their own. Were they raised Catholic? Yes. We never pushed though that they had to be priests. I would tell the boys that they had to love, honor and obey God. We didn’t say we want one of you to be a priest. We just said we want you to love God and obey him.”
“I was lucky,” she said, because her husband Joel “was always in Mass with us. The boys saw their father active in church. Boys will listen to their mothers for a while but they are always watching their fathers.”
See study details.
From November 5, 2015 issue of Catholic San Francisco.