08 The Role of Parents in a Priestly Vocation - Bishop Bosco Penha

posted Aug 1, 2018, 9:17 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 1, 2018, 9:17 AM ]
I was 21 years old, when I heard the call to the priesthood. I had gone to make a retreat for bankers, as I was then working in the National Bank of India at Fort. I was studying for my First LL.B. examination, studying and working at the same time. In those three unforgettable days spent at the Retreat House, Bandra, I knew for certain that God was calling me to be a priest. I was shocked, stunned, as I never seriously considered this possibility. It meant a U-turn in my plans for the future. I could hardly believe it. It all seemed like a dream. I asked the Retreat Master if I could put it aside as a crazy idea, but he forbade me to do this. He advised me to follow up the inspiration systematically. I believe that every vocation to the priesthood is a mystery. Mine certainly was! And it has become more mysterious with each passing year.

I had one big hurdle, and that was my concern for my parents. Both of them were then 58 years of age. My father had already retired. My sister and I were working to stabilise the family finances. My sister was due to join the convent shortly, and here was I looking at the seminary. Who would look after our parents in their old age? We were not an affluent family. I was perplexed. I had no courage to break the news to my parents. As I was grappling with this problem, a year passed by.

My father was very keen on my entering the Indian Foreign Service, but he did not get an enthusiastic response from me. One day, he came, very angry, to the bank, showing me a notice in the newspaper about the exams for the Indian Foreign Service, and asked why I seemed so disinterested. In a moment of pressure and distress, and to calm him down, I blurted out, "I want to become a priest." He stared at me in amazement and disbelief. Then he retorted, "If you want to be a priest, why are you here? Leave the bank and join the seminary." Then he strode out of the bank.

When I shared with my parents about my concern for their future, they urged me not to let that worry me at all. My father said, "God has called you; you have to answer immediately. Don't worry about us. We will look after ourselves. After all, we gave birth to you. You didn't give birth to us." Both of them seemed happy and enthusiastic about my decision. They were, of course, naturally sad about my leaving home, but full of wonder that God had called both their children to the consecrated life. What a relief it was for me to see their reaction, and how encouraged I felt to go ahead with plans to join the seminary.