The sacredness of the priesthood should be a penetrating reality for your child. Such unworthy men, stepping into the In Persona Christi, consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the sacramentally conferred power to forgive sins on behalf of Christ; it is beyond what the mind can fathom.
And while not deemed to be Holy Orders, the convent and religious life is astoundingly beautiful, particularly in the barbaric age in which we live. Nothing is more beautiful than to see a young woman forgo the pleasures of the world, the natural longings for a husband and child, and to see her don the veil of a bride of Christ.
Most likely, you have plenty of priests near you. Whether you like them or not, it is paramount to kindle within your child’s heart a grave respect for the office of the deacon, the priest, and the bishop. And if the man is a scandal—as so many are—focus on the glories of the office, on the apostolic succession, and on the preservation of the ecclesial ranks by the Holy Spirit throughout the ages.
It is less likely, however, that you have good religious sisters in your area. If you do, count your blessings. Seeing a faithful nun in full habit is, to your little one, a small touch of heaven. There is something mystical about a woman in a habit, for it is a physical proclamation of her total rejection of the world and total submission to Jesus Christ.
Loving Parent, go out of your way to show your child such women. It goes without saying that religious garb does not make the man or woman. But it should likewise go without saying that a mere lapel pin is not inspiring to a little girl or boy.
Regarding vocational discernment, instruct your child from the earliest age—and progressively so as the years pass—that it is every young man and woman’s moral duty to discern a religious calling. And a passing thought is utterly insufficient. No, your child must persistently pray over the matter. Look for vocational retreats. Introduce your son to various religious orders and various holy priests in your diocese. In fact, add it into the typical college search. Go see the Dominicans. Go see the Carmelites. For your daughter, do the same. Go see active orders such as the Dominican sisters or contemplative orders like the Poor Clares.
Always emphasize that you are not imposing a religious vocation on them. Only God may do that. But likewise emphasize that it is your solemn duty to help your child discover God’s calling for his life.
Your child is more likely to be called to Holy Matrimony than religious life or Holy Orders. Nonetheless, parents make the grave mistake of not giving such vocations ample time to reach fruition in the heart and mind of their child. Never let a day pass without praying a Hail Mary for your child’s future vocation, for the grace that they might know and generously follow the path God has destined for your son or daughter from all eternity.
Source: Conor Gallagher, Parenting for Eternity (Gastonia, NC: TAN Books, 2021), pp. 70–73.