Parents worry about forcing their children to go to religious events

Archbishop Gomez during homily at Franciscan U. commencement, 2013

Archbishop Gomez during homily at Franciscan U. commencement, 2013

The following is adapted from an interview that Archbishop Gomez gave recently to the magazine, The Franciscan Way.

How would you describe the state of vocations today?

There has been a crisis for some time now in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Now, however, that’s true not just of the priesthood and consecrated life, but also of vocations to the married life. People used to get married when they were very young. Now it takes a long time for them to make a decision.

One of the reasons for all of these problems is the breakdown of the family. In the 1960s, the family entered a very challenging situation with divorce rates going up, more mobility, and less stability. It used to be that everyone sat down around the table and ate lunch and dinner together. There were family gatherings every weekend. That’s no longer the case.

I think this plays into young people not really understanding vocations or being willing to commit to one. Again, because many never had a stable family life, it is more difficult for young people to make decisions to commit to something that will last forever. Every vocation is born at home. The family is a domestic church. It is important for us to understand the role of family.

A couple of weeks ago in Rome, I had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father. At one point during the meeting, one of the priests with me asked the Holy Father to bless a zucchetto. The priest said, “Holy Father, could you bless this because my mother asked me to ask you.” The Holy Father’s eyes brightened and he replied, “One of the most important things in the life of a priest is his mother.”

I think for any vocation to be embraced, you have to have a good family environment. Again, this is true of marriage, too. How you think about married life and family life is so strongly influenced by what you experienced growing up in your parents’ home.

Are there any other reasons behind this crisis?
There is a lack of contact or relationship with consecrated people. A couple of generations ago, there were many priests and nuns that were visible to people. A vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life was an option most young Catholics at least thought about. We saw somebody living that vocation and could relate to it. Not anymore.

Along with that — and this is the most important thing — is the lack of depth in our understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church and how to develop a spiritual life. In the old days, at Catholic schools, we had Mass and Holy Communion daily. We prayed the Rosary, and we were taught how to start a spiritual life. But, since the 1960s, we have little by little lost our sense of prayer. We don’t understand the importance of spending time with God, or how to pray and relate to God. We are more interested in material things or having fun, and sitting down to pray doesn’t seem like fun to a lot of people these days. It doesn’t seem as attractive.

Why is it important that we say “Yes” when we hear God calling us to a particular vocation?
When we believe in God, we want to do God’s will. To listen to what God wants and answer him is essential for our own fulfillment. It is essential to our happiness on earth and in getting us to Heaven. The decision we make to answer God’s call, wherever that call may take us, will make all the difference in life.

What else can the family do to encourage vocations?
Pray together. Go to Mass together. Just talk about the important things in life. When something bad happens, say a prayer. Make an effort to go to religious events at the parish or make a pilgrimage. Usually the children don’t want to do that, and the parents worry about forcing their children to go. But they should. In the long term, it is something they will never forget, and it will make a difference.

Finally, this whole idea of knowing who we are is fundamental. Parents need to talk to children about that in a deep way, helping their children understand they are not just a Lakers fans or some other superficial thing, but a child of God. The best way a young person can learn that is to talk about it with their parents and see that reflected in the life of their parents.

What can pastors do to help the young adults in their parish discern their vocation?
The first thing pastors need to do is talk about vocations. They need to talk about it because people don’t know there is such a thing as a vocation, a particular call from God to the priesthood, consecrated life, or marriage. In the world, vocation is just a word. It doesn’t mean anything. We need to explain what it is.

The second thing the pastor must do is ask the young people what they think their vocation is. He must ask that question of every young person.

Just the fact of having the priest ask you what you are going to do with your life makes a difference. It gets you to start thinking about God’s will for your life and what Jesus is asking you to do. After that, it also helps for the priest to talk about the beauty of saying “Yes” to God and tell his own vocation story.

What else can be done to encourage a culture of vocations?
Strong Catholic schools are very important. They provide not only academic and spiritual formation, but also human formation, helping young people understand who they are as human persons.

Catholic universities are also absolutely important in this. During the college years, you discover what is out there in the world. It’s when you have to make decisions about what really matters and how you will live your life. Before that, in high school, you have the shelter of your family and a small community helping you make those decisions. But when you go to college, everything is wide open.

So what young people receive in college is going to mark their lives. That’s why it’s so important for universities to teach men and women the truth about God and the truth about who they are. Once they know that, they can make the right decisions.

What helped you pursue your vocation to the priesthood?
First, I went to Catholic schools, and they always asked the boys if we wanted to be priests. I also learned the basics of the Faith there and at home.

Then, my mother got sick with cancer. She was later cured, but while she was sick, I remember thinking that life is not easy. I also saw my father going to daily Mass at that time. That caught my attention and helped me see that faith is important.
Later, a cousin who was a hero of mine was killed in a car accident. Those things helped me to think deeply about what I was going to do with my life….
To read the version that appeared in The Tidings, click here.


  1. Clinton R. says:

    Another aspect the Archbishop should take into consideration is the novelty of “Altar girls”. How many boys might consider a priestly vocation if they served at the altar, but are put off because they consider it a “girl thing”? Some dioceses, such as Madison, WI have put an end to this practice. Post Vatican II, the Church has done a very poor job of promoting priestly vocations. No, it is not just because of the altar girl novelty, it is the whole premise of reducing the priest’s role in the Mass. In the Tridentine Mass, the priest is indeed in place of Christ, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and saying the prayers on behalf of the faithful. In the Novus Ordo, he sits on his chair during most of the Mass while laymen carry out the parts of the Mass that were once reserved only for the priest or those in Minor orders. The role of the priest in the NO does not encourage men to the priesthood to the extent the TLM does. Look at the nations largest archdioceses, NY and LA. Hardly any men are ordained priests there. Where the TLM and traditional Catholicism are practiced? More priestly vocations, marriages, larger families and women entering religious life. Save the Litury, save the world.

    • Where I attend mass, we have NO altar girls…nada, zip, zilch, NONE! Only the priest gives communion at the altar rail, and the sacred blood is consumed only by the priest. This is how we like it at my parish…very, very traditional…Praise be Jesus Christ!

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


        Don’t be shy, tell us where you attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

      • InChrist says:

        There is a huge difference for me receiving the Precious Blood daily along with the Eucharist. I have spoken with several daily communicants and they notice a large gap in graces received. We should all have that opportunity.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Archbishop Gomez’s annual invasion of the heretics, the REC, certainly does not help in the promotion of true vocations. Actions speak a lot louder than words!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  2. “Priests and nuns were visible to the people”
    Yes, they were identifiable by their religious garb. Now that there are so few of them, this is even more important. Nuns…I won’t even go there, but when was the last time you saw a priest in a cassock…on the school grounds, on parish property or even in the parish church. I’d bet very few priests even own one. Youngsters are denied that first spark of curiosity when they would ask their mom….”Mom, who’s that?”

    • Michael says:

      Yes, most priests probably don’t own a cassock any more — and you probably don’t own spats, gloves, and a top hat.
      But a priest in a Roman collar is visible enough for people, including children, to ask and learn. It also looks more…well…MANLY for a man to wear a clerical suit that a long cassock in this day and age.
      As for nuns, in our parish we have a couple of different Orders who wear the habit, but many of them are from other countries where the women don’t fight tradition so much and perhaps don’t have such a chip on their shoulder. Their habits are simple, because these nuns work, but they are clearly ROMAN CATHOLIC NUNS when you see them in church or in the street. It’s a powerful witness.

      • I completely disagree with your cassock comment. It is manly and traditional. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, who that man is in the cassock. It sends a message of courage to the laity.

        We have a mens religous group and all the seminarians wear a cassock.

        A couple years at much less traditional parish, we had a visit and talk a MIC priest in cassock. I assure you his up front faith and loyalty to the magesteriaum also helped impress those who attended.

      • Horendo Mendoza says:

        Michael, go to a school that is still staffed by religious who wear habits and then go to one that has religious in “layman’s” clothes. There is a BIG difference in the schools. This is not an attack on the schools whose religious are dressed down. Simply an observation that there IS a demonstrable difference. While it might not be quantitative, it is definitely qualitative and palpable while in the presence of the students on a campus where religious are in habits. We are friends with many priests from religious orders who wear habits to meals out, movies, social functions, and for coffee at the local diner. They are always proud to wear it and we are proud to be with them as a witness to our faith and the practice of it. And yes, I do own spats, gloves, and a top hat. I actually tie my tuxedo cravat because I own it. I wear my kilt on occasion because it honors my grandfather and great-grandfather who came to America as Catholics from a Protestant country (Scotland) and fought many battles there and here to defend their Catholic faith. Religious garb does the same but with respect to our faith. If you don’t want to chide those religious who choose not to wear habits, then do not denigrate those who do by insinuating that they are out-of-step with the times. I have seen the times and live in them. I am happy to be out-of-step with them as well.

        • Well, Horendo, I too occasionally dress up in my ancestral battle garb, namely bearskin shorts, a horned hat, and a large fire hardened tree limb with a spike through it. I haven’t quite reached the top hat with cravat stage yet.

      • I live in the south and we have a few habited nuns. The locals ask them if they are muslims. Usually the priests don’t dress in clerical garb outside of when they are doing priest business. One priest went out wearing it at the end of October and was told by a cashier “I like your costume.”

      • The cassock remains the official garment of the priest, but Hey!, I’d settle for some clerical attire other than chinos & sweatshirts at parish events.

  3. People who do not accurately know their Faith, can not accurately pass on their Faith to their own children and others.
    Let us not underestimate the dire need for the continuing catechesis of adults.
    All Bishops and Priests should encourage all literate persons in the USA to read the Bible and studying the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” at home on a regular basis.
    Bishops, Priests and all of us must be pro-active in teaching to Save Souls.

    “ In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments. ” – Pope Francis (May 13, 13)

  4. Father Karl says:

    Parents are supposed to be the primary educators of their children. By their example, and by their words, positive impressions are imprinted upon the minds of their offspring. Naturally, children will rebel at times, but it is the responsibility of the parents to do their job well in preparing their children for adulthood. If the parents practice their Catholic faith, then the children will probably do likewise. As Father Patrick Payton said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Children learn what they are taught. If the parents are religious, and practice love of God and love of neighbor, then the children will also have these virtues. To live one’s faith, means one must have piety. There must be prayer in the family. The only reason why a parent would be afraid of bringing their children to a religious event, is because they probably NEVER took them to one before. An apple never falls far from the tree. If children are ignorant of their precious Catholic faith, then the primary blame must be on the parents. Teachers of religion, and the poor quality of homilies at Mass also play a part in the ignorance of the faith, but the main reason is because of the parents. They teach their children how to speak, how to walk, and how to live, why can’t they teach them about God, and how to avoid sin.

  5. The example of good priests is near gone. The example of strong Catholic bishops in California is near gone. Priests such as the still functioning Cardinal Roger Mahony have set an example of corruption. So many priests are either homosexual or homosexualists, caught up with things like Behind the Candelabra rather than than the votive candle.

    Why would any decent young man want to become a priest today and fall into bad company?

    • Brian S says:

      What a defeatist attitude, and one that ignores the near total turn-over of California bishops accomplished under Benedict.

      As for candelabras, how many priests do you actually know? How many of them are homosexual?

      • Catherine says:

        Brian S asks? “As for candelabras, how many priests do you actually know? How many of them are homosexual?


        According to Stephen Brady’s investigations , Orange County and San Diego have many, in fact he referred to these areas as nests.

        • Anonymous says:

          Please read “Christians must resist the dark joy of gossiping” or “Gossip is like slapping Jesus”. Both stories on different Catholic websites relay the Pope’s homily on this.

          • Catherine says:


            The scandals are the dark results of people ignoring the truth as well as all of the warning signs. Lift your head out of the sand or else you will sound just like just another “anonymous” member of the lavender mafia trying to silence the truth. Protecting corruption and hiding corruption or being a member of that corruption is a slap in the face of Jesus.

            Google Church Militant TV “Irritated and Annoying and then read Pope Francis’s words on being annoyed and irritated since the truth always annoys you. The victims of abuse were also told to stop the “dark joy of gossiping”. There is a reason why the scandals flourished and there is still a reason why parents have to homeschool their children because they know they will be exposed to the same heretical distortions that we daily read on this website.

          • “Gossip” is a construct created by people who want the truth to be hidden.

  6. Michael says:

    If parents are afraid to “force” their children to attend Mass and other normal Catholic things, I wonder if they are also afraid to “force” their children to go to school, brush their teeth, obey traffic laws, etc.
    Children need parents who will be PARENTS and guides – not just pals. Their pals are the same age as the kids.
    If kids don’t get guidance at a young age, when in the world will they get any???

    • Both of my adult children trace their loss on faith to the Catholic schools, to which I transferred them in the 70’s.
      This has brought me into Confirmation preparation in Los Angeles.
      Hell may be paved with the skulls of bishops because they knew better, but
      I encounter so much invincible ignorance within the DREs that I fear for the souls these children will become after their ill formation.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


        Are you aware of the definition of invincible ignorance? if so, are you so sure that it is invincible ignorance on the part of the DREs. My own nephew was fired by the DREs for being too Catholic!

        The late Fr. Dan Johnson of happy and holy memory, never allowed DREs at St. Mary’s By The Sea as long as he was in charge.

        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

        • I looked into the DRE programs several decades ago, and soon realized that it was a Marxist/feminist assault on Catholicism.

      • Anonymous says:

        Namaste? Exactly what are the DREs ignorant of?

  7. good cause says:

    Many Catholic parents are too harsh with their children and later reap the damage this does to their kids in adult life. Children do not spritiually thrive in a rigid, punitive environment where loud orders and mean spirited tactics prevent a child from maturing properly and accepting his parents’ religious practices as their own. Children that don’t mature aren’t going to join the priesthood or religious life. If the home life is rigid on all things religious, the child learns that God and Church are harsh taskmasters and not loving beings. Children can pick up easily the parental cues that going to Mass and praying the rosary are not something they want to do but something they HAVE to do, which is a poor foundation for anyone to develop a thoughtful and mature spiritual life. I have lost many, many family and friends from the Church due to the more strident tactics of so many Catholic parents who think that those very firm tactics ensure compliance and obedience from their children, only to see their kids leave the Church for good once they leave home. The children never developed a relationship with a loving God because the Church and their parents never mentored it to them. Good example beats harsh doctrinal lectures any day of the week.

    • There is nothing “rigid” in adhering to the teachings of the Church, as stated in the CCC.
      Permissiveness, relativism, and secularism can eventually send Souls to Hell.

      Just because I set the example of brushing my teeth, or not hanging around with druggies – does not mean that my children will follow my example.
      Yes, examples are very important, but children must be taught right from wrong, and that even adults sin sometimes and need to repent. (And that many adults are worse than others.)
      If we slip and sin, we don’t want children to follow that example.

      Children MUST be provided good catechesis at home on a regular basis.
      To know your Faith accurately and in full, and to be able to pass that on to your children, read the CCC.
      Praying together as a Family, in addition to attending Sunday Mass together sets a great example – but children must be required to participate.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        except, Mary, that he’s violating the CCC when he unjustly discriminates against these gay kids, as he does. and then he leads his parishoners down the same violations of ccc, thus causing scandal.

        • YFC – there is no unjust discrimination against those with same sex attraction.
          Kids who feel they need to stand up on a soap box and publically declare they are homosexuals – need to be taught that all homosexual acts are mortal sins, and that they are called to “Chastity” (no sex).

          Any Scout interjecting sex or even sexual statements into Scouting activities should not be a Scout – setting a bad example for all others which may encourage them to sin.

          “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better fro him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of the little ones to sin. ….. if your brother sins rebuke him…..” Lk 17:1-3

          What comes out of a man defiles a man. Mk 7:20-23.

        • It is not unjust discrimination to exclude gay kids from a scout troop. The gay kids are being fomented by their gay parents, as an attack on goodness, a rebellion against God. The gay agenda (see Rev 12) is after the kids.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but there is a lot more too it. Love of God and love of neighbor. Real sincere love. I think he was talking about the harshness of parents. He mentioned very aggressive and violent parenting techniques. I remember as a kid being uncooperative with my mother and hitting my head on something. My mother told me “See, that is God punishing you for not obeying your mother.” Also, and this is bad, some parents use the 4th commandment to manipulate and torture their kids. They use the status God has given them to justify abuse-even sexual abuse.

        • Catherine says:

          ” I remember as a kid being uncooperative with my mother and hitting my head on something.”

          O my goodness! I am so sorry to read this. How hard did you hit your head? You are right, your mother should not have said that but it surely helps to explain quite a bit.

          • Anonymous says:

            You’re mean!

          • Catherine says:

            Anonymous writes …”You’re mean!”

            Reply: One person’s interpretation of mean is another person’s recognition of that person’s duplicitousness posts. If you were completely interested in sincerely loving your neighbor you would not post as one poster who readily claims to agree with *all * Church teaching and then hide under a rock and take anonymous pot shots at the heroic faithful priests who have shown the most courage in making a difference when defending the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

            You are not only cleverly working to silence excellent priests in your desire to keep the status quo of fear and cowardice, you are also hiding behind “anonymous duplicity” and fooling the gullible which makes your charity toward neighbor status very low.

          • Anonymous says:

            I have not made any potshots at heroic faithful priests. What does this have to do with homosexuality? Catherine, have you ever done the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius? I would like to recommend to you something. Take a sheet of paper and divide it like they do in the exercises. Make a mark every time that you think about homosexuality. (Not that it is a sin to think about homosexuality.) It would be good to say a prayer then too. Maybe a prayer of reparation for all those who commit sins of impurity and one of self-offering to God. You could offer a small sacrifice or mortification, too. God will guide you in this.

        • ” My mother told me “See, that is God punishing you for not obeying your mother.”: Mom tried that on us, as I recall, but unlike Anonymous, we knew she was at the end of her rope and was making it up on the fly. Anonymous, years ago, when the late evangelist out of Tulsa stood in his prayer tower and announced that unless people sent him eight million dollars, God was going to destroy all sorts of stuff … did you send him money?

        • Abeca Christian says:

          Anonymous I am sorry about what your mum said. I;m sure she is only repeating what she grew up with as well. Or perhaps she only spoke in desperation to try to get you to understand. Try to overlook her flaws and focus on the good. After all she stood by your side through thick and thin right?

          Of course you know that God did not want you to hurt your head but it is our own disobedience that actually causes us into clumsiness. There is no perfect parent that will always say or do it perfectly because only our Lord is perfect but we can appreciate our parents for trying to get us to listen. We can appreciate them for taking us even with their own imperfections, when looking at other situations, praise God our mum’s chose to give us life and praise God that they feared the Lord and wanted to give us their best….if our Lord receives us even in our own imperfections and one say’s to our Lord “Lord I give you my best” I give Him thanks for overlooking our flaws and truly see that our best can mean different from each and every single one.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            Anony after reading again your comments…..there are also good parents who teach the commandments due to their love for our Lord and to honor Him. Most parents do truly seek to do right by our Lord and raise their kids the best they can. It’s not all negative as you have posted. One does not need to be perfect to be a parent. A child is a blessing but they do not come with hand books on how to raise them, especially with particular temperaments or health issues they come with, but all a parent needs to do is love their child and seeking their salvation is the first key to knowing how deep that love really is.

  8. I wonder how many pervert priest’s and religious have slid through the cracks, and have not appeared on the website…methinks a whole bunch! If a Catholic nursing home or hospital harbors any known pedophile/pederast’s, they will stand tall before the man, and answer! Not only that, they could lose their medicare status for allowing these perp’s to hole up in these facilities…by living in a room, or saying mass for the patient’s or just chillin’… if the proper authorities got wind of this…”geesh”…, think of the ramification’s…medicare, medi-cal, the D.A., et al. Boggles the mind

  9. Michael says:

    It seems to be that children SHOULD be “forced” to attend religious events, if they have a religion: Sunday Mass, funerals of loved ones, Eucharistic Adoration (to teach them the value of silence and meditation), Confession (to remind them they are not perfect but sinners like the rest of us), and so forth.
    We “force” our children to get shots, to attend school, to take showers, to brush their teeth, to obey the law, so why not make our faith part of the normal course of events as well?
    Otherwise, the kids will spend their time not doing good things that might touch their souls and inspire them to become better Catholics, and to discern a vocation, and to be holy, but instead they’ll just end up as couch potatoes, playing violent video games.
    Not forcing our children to take part in their Catholic culture is like letting your garden go wild and turn into weeds!

  10. Abeca Christian says:

    Its interesting… of my son’s best friends, his parents force him not to ever miss school even when he has a cold ….but they never introduced church. They even have sports on the weekends, even if their son does not want to attend, they make him, they say things like “well you made a commitment to play, then you can’t miss”. Why aren’t parents making a commitment to have their child attend mass….mass is not only for Christmas or Easter you know….

  11. Anne T. says:

    “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” (from the Bible: Proverbs 22:6) is as true in this day and age as it ever was. How is a child to have a good conscience as an adult if he was never taught right from wrong? Notice that the Biblical passage says that he/she will not depart from WHEN THEY ARE OLD since most offspring go through a rebellious stage. By the way, there are many priests in our area that wear cassocks on the Church grounds, and believe me, they do not look like women. They are far more masculine and disciplined than some men in pants.

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