Background: I am the oldest of three (20, 18 – senior, 16 – sophomore) and I am currently a junior in college. My father passed away when I was 16 years old, leaving me with a lot of responsibilities around the house as well as the responsibility of being my mother’s support system. Within the last year, my mother has especially struggled, but I have known since the time that my father passed away (especially because, unfortunately, he was not able to get great insurance) that it would fall on me to help support my mother financially and to help get my siblings through college. For this reason, I have done everything in my power to put myself in a position where I will be able to carry the financial load. (Side note: my brother (18) has felt a very strong call to the priesthood for a very long time and I have a feeling that he is very much called to the priesthood – and I absolutely want him to go for it.)
Present Situation: My friend has been seriously discerning the priesthood for almost a year now and we are both of the opinion that all Catholic men should spend a significant time discerning the priesthood. I strongly agree with this position, but it has been very difficult to pour myself into this discernment because (a) in the back of my mind, I feel a great responsibility to my mother (and so that my brother does not have to worry about this, too) and (b) I have always been a romantic and I am finding it difficult to let go of this in order to properly discern the priesthood. (Part of me believes, though, that I have a duty to 100% contemplate the priesthood, as in completely unfocusing on the romantic desires. In an attempt to do this, I have not had a relationship for two years.)
Question: Are my familial responsibilities a legitimate reason for not completely putting myself into discernment of the priesthood? Are these familial responsibilities, perhaps, a legitimate source of guidance towards the married life?
Thank you for your time and willingness to help,