"Big Four" Highlights


The Zebedee Zone

A new book for parents of future priests

By Jason Godin
Associate Editor, Fathers for Good

Accepting the call to the priesthood affects much more than the life of one man. Parents of future priests find that the process transforms them and their thoughts about the future. It is a profound process that may make them feel uneasy when they think about a white clerical collar replacing a wedding tuxedo tie around their son’s neck, and the hope for grandchildren slipping away at ordination. It may even leave moms and dads feeling a little like Zebedee, standing alone in the family boat as their son walks away with Jesus (cf. Matthew 4: 21-22). Some may feel like they are entering the strange precincts of The Twilight Zone.

Father Brett A. Brannen seeks to address such issues with his book A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons Are Considering Priesthood (Vianney Vocations). Father Brannen has much experience in priestly formation, serving as vocation director in the Diocese of Savannah for 10 years and as vice rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, for six years. He is the author of another important book on priestly formation, To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood, also published by Vianney Vocations in 2010.

A Fourth Degree Knight and chaplain of Savannah Council 631, Father Brannen currently serves as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Savannah, Georgia. He spoke with Fathers for Good about his book.

Fathers for Good: What is a simple way for a dad to serve his son who is discerning the priesthood?

Father Brett A. Brannen: By talking to him about what is going on in his discernment and asking gentle questions to show his support. He can also help him to get good information about priesthood and discernment (books, videos) or encourage him to attend vocation retreats. When I was a vocation director, a dad once called me and invited me to supper with the family, with his son’s knowledge and approval. We had a great meal and I answered questions from the mother, the father and the candidate all evening about discernment, seminary and priesthood!

FFG: What would you tell the father of a son who is entering the seminary?

Father Brannen: I would tell him to trust in the providence of God. Jesus loves your son a million times more than you do and he has a great plan for his happiness and fulfillment. Even if priesthood is not what you were hoping, trust in the providence of God.

FFG: What do you consider the greatest bit of misinformation that families with a priest son have to face? How do you recommend fathers can help in overcoming it?

Father Brannen: Our secular society lives under the false illusion that unless a man is having a lot of sex, he cannot be happy and fulfilled. The truth is that most priests, though celibate, are extremely happy and fulfilled in their life as a priest and say that if they had to make the choice again, they would choose priesthood again. Let the data speak! The studies are very consistent that priests are among the most happy in their vocations.

Visit Vianney Vocations for more information about resources for priestly vocations.

ENGAGE & INTERACT: How would you react if your son expressed an interest in the priesthood?