As I look at the calendar and realize there are only 10 weeks until Joshua’s priestly ordination, I reflect back to the beginning of Josh’s discernment journey that began just about 10 years ago when Josh was still in high school, and I realize that it has been a family journey.
Many people ask me if as a mother, did I pray for one of my sons to become a priest, and others ask if I was surprised when Josh said he wanted to enter the seminary. I never saw our family as super holy, and there always seemed to be those families who were going to Mass every day, saying family rosaries, and reading books about the saints to their children at bedtime. To me those were the mothers who had sons that became priests, and I secretly worried that I was not holy enough to have a son who would become a priest. However, as a mother I did pray that all of my children would live within the will of God and live a life filled with his love.
I was not surprised, though, when Joshua said that he wanted to enter the seminary to discern the priesthood since I had suspected for several years that he may have a calling to become a priest. When Josh was in fourth grade, he became an altar server, and from that moment on, even if we were not the perfect “holy family,” his faith was very important to him.
He attended a Catholic elementary school, but when it was time for high school, financially attending a Catholic school was not a possibility. But even while attending a public high school, Josh let his faith continue to guide him. By the time he was a junior in high school and it was time to start looking at colleges, I asked Josh if he had thought about becoming a priest. It was at that time he told me he had been in contact with several priests he knew through youth group activities to ask them about their vocation stories.
When Josh first told me he wanted to enter the seminary right after high school, I will admit that I was a bit hesitant. I supported his decision to enter the seminary, but thought it should be something that happened after college when he had more life experiences. I did not understand the whole discernment process and felt that he was too young at the age of 18 to make the commitment to the priesthood. Josh responded by saying that he was not becoming a priest at 18 but discerning if the priesthood was for him, and in that moment I knew that he was making the right decision. I also realized that I needed to put trust in God’s will and put it into his hands.
Sometimes I still worry that our family is not holy enough, but Joshua’s journey continues to be a wonderful journey for us as well. Our faith has deepened through our support of Josh in his discernment. Josh’s stepfather, Marshall, and I have become more involved in our parish, Our Lady of Peace, and we are tremendously grateful to our parish priests and deacons, especially our pastor, Father Mazz, for all of their support for Joshua and our whole family.
We still may not be that perfect “holy family,” but we are trying to continually improve our relationship with God. Spending more time with the Lord has become an important part of our lives. We are extremely proud of Joshua for answering God’s call to discern the priesthood and for choosing to live a life filled with God’s love. We continue to pray for Joshua and all of his brother seminarians as they continue their discernment journey, and we ask for your continued prayers as well.
Sally Fox is the mother of Deacon Joshua Nevitt. She is a parishioner at Our Lady of Peace in Williamstown.