“We all have a responsibility,” Loughran said. “There’s a shortage of priests everywhere. Our diocese is no exception, so what more can we do? It’s not what more can the vocations director do, what more can the diocese do, what more can the bishops do? The vocations will come out of families.”
This initial reflection led to a desire to create their own local group of mothers, praying for the vocations of their children.
While the Mothers of Lu in Italy all lived in the same village and could easily meet at the local church each week to pray together, the moms in Rochester found themselves much more spread out. They decided to meet once a month for adoration and the Mothers of Lu prayer, and they promise to pray individually each week in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They also receive communion on the first Sunday of each month for the intention of having priestly and religious vocations from among their sons and daughters.
The women reached out within their own networks – the local homeschool, Catholic school, and Catholic mom communities – and the group grew through word of mouth. A few priests expressed interest as well, and ran bulletin articles about it.
Shauna Walczak, a local mother who is expecting her fifth child next year, was one of the women who helped create the group. She told CNA that following in the footsteps of the Lu Mothers is beautiful because “we are asking God and the Blessed Mother for a holy home where our children can be free to properly discern their vocations.”
In addition to parents’ natural responsibility to help their children get to heaven, she said, the recent scandals in the Church highlight the need to foster prayer and devotion to the Eucharist at the center of families and homes.
“In essence, we are not only praying for our children’s vocations, but also pray for the healing of our communities through adoration and love of the Eucharist,” she said.
The first meeting was held in July. After three months, the group had grown to about 40 members, from different parishes in the diocese. Some of the moms have young children, while others have children in college or older. One mom has a son who is currently a seminarian for the diocese. Several grandmothers also attend the prayer meetings.
“We’re not expecting to see results in a month of a year. This is something that is going to take time and patience and trust,” Loughran explained.
Loughran and Walczak both clarified that their goal with the Mothers of Lu group is not to discourage or downplay the vocation of marriage.
“We fully recognize that God has already determined their vocations, we are just clearing the path with our prayers to make their discernment easier,” Walczak said. “It helps us as parents to have open hearts to whatever God’s will is for their lives, and helps us to focus on making our homes Christ-centered.”
“Everybody has a call. Everybody has a vocation. We’re just supporting what that is and helping our kids them recognize that they do have a vocation, and it’s important for them to listen to God,” Loughran added.
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She stressed that vocational discernment should be a part of every young adult’s life, as they look to see where God is calling them.
“If they know that we will support them and we’re going to encourage them through this – whether it’s to be a priest, to be a religious sister, to be married – any of that really takes some time on their part to listen to God,” she said. “And that’s not something that kids do easily in today’s society. I think they need the encouragement of their parents and friends.”
“Having friends whose parents who are also praying for the same intentions helps them too, to create more of a community of support,” she continued. “Somebody else is also discerning religious life or priesthood - you’re not the only one. It just creates more support for the kids.”
Loughran said she tries to create a family environment in which her six children – ranging from college-aged to a one-year-old – are intentional in thinking about vocations.
“Talking about it is natural. We have a lot of friends who are priests, we have uncles who are priests, it’s a natural part of our family life,” she said, adding that the family spends time with religious sisters as well.
In addition, Loughran said her family spends time together in adoration, “just teaching our kids how important it is to just set time apart in your life for the quietness to hear God, what he’s asking of you.”