Some parents express anxiety about what may happen if their son leaves the seminary before completing its course of studies and formation program. It is possible that your son could spend many years in seminary and discern that a life of single-hearted service in the Church is not the vocation God is calling him to. There is nothing wrong or shameful about withdrawing from the seminary and the diocese’s program for priestly formation for this reason. The time any young man spent in formation should never be considered a waste. Your son will have grown in holiness, self-awareness, and in personal maturity through the entire process of discernment and by his time in a formation program. He, his future and the Church are sure to be enriched by the experience. If my son has flaws, does it mean he should not be in the seminary?
Occasionally parents become concerned that their son is not suited to serve the Church due to certain temperaments or failings. These same concerns are commonly expressed by the very individuals who are in discernment.
The priesthood and religious life requires a high caliber of skills, abilities, and psycho-sexual maturity. However, it is not reserved to “the perfect.” If every young man who experienced the first movements in his hearts to serve the Church waited until he felt completely worthy to begin his discernment, we would not have any priests at all! A genuine vocation is not measured by one’s feelings of worthiness, but rather by one’s desire to respond to God’s call to serve the Church as a disciple of Christ.
The academic rigors and spiritual formation programs offered in the seminary are designed to develop a young man’s natural skills and abilities and to remedy any weaknesses or deficiencies. This formation takes time and is one of the reasons why it takes so many years to become a priest. Before the discernment process reaches this stage, however, the most supportive action a parent can take is to encourage their son to listen to and be faithful to God’s call.