Answering the call again, and again, and again: families with multiple vocations

Vocations shortage?  What vocations shortage?  Over at Our Sunday Visitor, they’ve got an interesting roundup on families that have more than one child who has entered the priesthood or religious life.

Take, for example, the Hopkins crew, with three priests and one nun:

At one time, Sister Catherine Marie Hopkins, who grew up near Syracuse, N.Y., wanted to marry and have a large family. When she taught at a Catholic school in Rochester, she liked to think of the students as her children.

Someone suggested that she might have a vocation. She replied, “I saw God draw my brothers and give them a desire for the religious life, and I do not have one.”

Yet she felt “fear and wonder” at the possibility, then saw the joy in the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia of Nashville. God spoke to her, and at age 24, she entered the community.

Her brothers were called to be Legionaries of Christ at different stages in their lives, but in such timing that they caught up with each other in formation. On Jan. 3, 1991, they were ordained together by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Our parents [Peter and Nelly] taught us at a very young age that the only important thing was to do God’s will,” Father John said. “They didn’t talk a lot about vocations, but they did talk about how we had to use our gifts not selfishly, but for others.”

Father Peter recalls the love that his parents openly expressed to each other and to their children.

“I was 6 or 7 and I broke my arm and was in traction in the hospital. My father said, ‘I wish I could trade places with you because I cannot stand to watch you suffer,’” he said. “It is only when I looked back that I understood that really deep love. I think a religious vocation is born if you understand the intensity of God’s love, and you can understand God’s love when you experience it in a human way. To understand that God’s love was even more intense and radical than our parent’s love — that was huge.”

Father Edward was dating a girl when he felt a tug toward priesthood. She was very supportive.

“I had to find out what God wanted,” he said.

He, too, was influenced by his parents’ prayers, their mother’s patience and how their father, who was seriously injured in the Battle of Normandy, struggled to genuflect, but did.

Their brother Stephen, 48, is a psychologist in Nashville.

“His vocation is as needed in the world as ours,” Father Edward said. “A priest can only do so much if something is not a spiritual problem and requires a different healing. Stephen is inspiring and takes his work very seriously. We are proud of him.”

There’s much more. Check it out. It’s an inspiration.


  1. Katie Angel says:

    From thew time I was a small child, my sister used to all me “Sister Kathleen Mary” and I believed from a young age that I would grow up to be a member of the religious (or course, before I knew better I wanted to be a priest) :-)

    Then, at 24, as I was finishing my studies to become an accountant and planning my entry into the novitiate, I met the love of my life and married. Given the circumstances of our meeting each other and the obstacles we overcame to make it to the altar, I have no doubt that marrying him was what God ordained for me at that time and I have not regrets about my decision.

    After his death, I explored the possibility of becoming a nun, only to find that I was now too old to begin my novitiate. I would not trade the 25 years I had with my darlling George but I sometimes wonder about the “road not traveled”. I still participate in retreats at the Carmelite convent that I almost joined and I always feel such a sense of peace and renewal when I enter those gates.

  2. A few years back, I wrote a similar article for The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It was about the Etienne family of Tell City, IN. They’ve got (now) a bishop, two priests and a Benedictine sister. (The priest who was a appointed a bishop received his appointment less than a year after I wrote my article.)

    The neat thing about the family is how the mother, when she was a young adult on a pilgrimage at Lourdes and was discerning her own vocation made a promise to God.

    You can read more about the promise and the Etienne family here:

  3. beautiful…but just one quibble: it should be families with multiple “religious vocations”- there are vocations to married and single life as well

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