In earlier generations, it would have been unthinkable that devout as she and my Father were, and with so enormous a brood, none of her children would have even thought of becoming a priest or religious.
Why didn't we? -- not, thinking about it as objectively as I am able, that any one of us would have discovered a true vocation to the priesthood or religious life -- but why did we never even consider it? (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I did think about becoming a priest, positive that by the time I was ready for a graduate school or seminary, the seminary would be ready for me; my ovaries and XX chromosomes would be no impediment whatever.)
The preceding generation had one failed vocation on each side, a permanent deacon who seemed to be a transitional deacon, who left the seminary two days, literally two days before ordination. On the other it was laicization and marriage, I was too young to know in which order, and it wouldn't do to ask now, "kids" don't need to be told such things, doncha know...
But being more conscientious about praying for vocations during this Year for the Priest, I am giving thought to some of the boys or young men I know who might have a vocation.
Think about it, you probably know one or two.
Have you ever said anything to encourage them, asked anything to get them thinking?
Ask your priest what set the wheels in motion for him.
"We moved to the second floor of a three-family house, and on the first floor lived [another future preist] and his family. He and I used to concelebrate long before it was permitted; we were only little kids. We offered Mass impromptu in the front hall of the house. [His]mother made little chasubles for us. We had a white piece of candy for the host. …
There are all kinds of connections. God certainly worked continually through all the years. I’ve never wanted anything else."
"I became an altar boy in fourth grade, which was the earliest you could do it because you had to learn the Latin. I was very interested in this priest who had a DeSoto. It was really flashy. I sort of liked that little car that he had because it was different from all the others; it had an odd shape. That was not the thing, of course, but I thought it must be nice to be a priest, to be able to celebrate Mass and help people. But it was the nuns. They had me pegged."
"I think it was the good example I had at home. We never said private prayer. In fact, I remember saying morning prayer with my mother and dad. At night we always closed with night prayer. I used to call it ‘my mother’s breviary.’ Even if we were going out for the evening, say during high school, we gathered to pray the rosary."
"I liked what I saw the priest do and felt that that is what I wanted to do when I saw them interact with us kids and the parish. When I finished eighth grade, I wanted to go to [a minor seminary?]. I was a day-hop. My parents were a little hesitant about me going in at that young age, but they saw it as a good education and our pastor reassured them."
"We had a curate... He was a big, tall, good-looking Irish guy. I just thought I’d like to be like that. Of course that was hero worship, but he taught me the Latin to be an altar server. He was a great man and he gave me a good example. That was the seed. Of course, I soon developed better reasons than that, but the seed grew from there."