Resources for Discerning with a Sick Parent?

Hey all,

I am discerning entering religious life (actually, I’ve been accepted), but I am really struggling with whether to leave or stay for another year or two to help out my dad who has a progressive autoimmune disorder. The thing with this disease is it can spontaneously go into remission, plateau, rapidly increase/decrease its progression. He could live 5 years, 20 years, or die tomorrow. So part of the question is also how to judge when he actually needs help vs. wants help to keep me from leaving.

Mostly I’m looking for resources that can help me understand the responsibility of a son towards sick parents, especially as an only child whose parents are divorced and single. I would also appreciate anything that would help explain the priesthood and my decision to an agnostic humanist/scientific skeptic who has a distrust of religion.

Thanks much!
Pax Christi!

:tiphat:Well, I’m a woman, so can’t help with the priesthood business. I once wanted to be a nun.However my mom had a stroke which paralyzed her on one side of her body.I took care of her,and my brother and sister helped.My dad helped out too. Later my father got sick from COPD a lung diease and took care of him till he passed away. Since you don’t have any brothers or sisters, I assume most of his care falls to you.I don’t know if your dad has a nursing service also helping him.

Let me put it this way.If I had entered the convent, I would have probably taken a leave of abscense to take care of my mom,and maybe then later on my dad. Maybe God decided that they needed me more than He did.I believe Jesus understood why I didn’t become a nun. I’m in my 50s, so would be harder for me to join a community since I have lived alone for 17 years.Momma dying in 1982 and daddy in 1996. You may want to go and talk to your parish priest about maybe becoming a deacon. He or the diocesan vocation office can give you info on that. That can be a stepping stone to the priest hood.You could still help your dad,and help the Church at the same time. Then when he does pass on, you will maybe have some idea about what a priest does,even though deacons don’t celebrate mass like a priest.And the training may help you in the seminary as well.
And if you should meet some young lady one day and wish to marry,you can’t become a priest, but you can still be a deacon. Or maybe you might decide after all that the priesthood isn’t for you,that some times happens.But you like serving the Church, so service as a deacon might be up your alley.Sounds confusing I know.It’s early and I’m still half asleep.

these are precious years. dont miss the lessons to be learned.

deacon at this time would be permanent. could go on to priesthood, though.

make retreats when you can and use the green scapular.

focus on them and be an angel.


Thanks for your responses.
I’m 27 years old and was living out of state until about two years ago. I moved back so I could re-establish my roots and continue my discernment. I really do feel called to religious life, most especially the community. Priests are extremely needed in my rural diocese, but the solitary life of the diocesan priest/deacon would be extremely hard on me. I do not do well living by myself… i come by it honestly, neither does my dad.

My dad has sarcoidosis, which can be similar to COPD. At times it seems his dependence on me is primarily an emotional thing—he does not want to be alone. He has three siblings (although two live out of state and the third recently separated himself from our family) and there are over a dozen cousins in the area. He refuses to ask any of them for help. I started seeing a counselor at the request of the Vocations Director. She has routinely emphasized that his ability to continue working a full-time job should be used as a yard stick of his actual ability to handle his condition without my help. In fact, she thinks it is unhealthy for me to be living in the same house as him. It is true that his biggest hurdle right now is the emotional fluctuations that occur from his treatment on the Marshall Protocol. He can go from joyful to weeping in a few hours, often with pain or neurological impairment (i.e. leg going numb, foggy minded, etc.). His physical needs aren’t that serious yet.

There are many reasons why I would prefer to stay for another year. I have a nephew (maternal half-bro’s son) that I sorta mentor. There’s a lot of good stuff happening professionally and in the Catholic community here that I would enjoy being part of. But then what happens after that year? Another year? Even if I were to not join religious life, I would want to go to graduate school and eventually get my Ph.D in psychology (takes 7-10 years). I’m already looking at being 35-40 if I were to start now. If I wait a few years, I will be 40-45 and how will I ever hope to support a family if I start my career 15 years from retirement? :eek:

Sorry, this was kind of a spew of words and stuff in my head. Anyway… there is no easy answer to this.

Does the religious community you applied to know about your father’s condition? Do they know the circumstances? The reason I ask is, if they accepted you knowing the condition he is in, they obviously believe that you have a vocation and God is calling you now. It’s difficult to imagine, but you must go where God is leading. Your father has other people in his life who can care for him when he needs it. You are not being selfish. Answering the call when you have it is a responsibility and it needs to be done out of love. Just remember, God took care of your parents before you came along. He’ll take care of them when you leave. Just trust Him! :slight_smile:

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