When a young man is called to the priesthood, he is called to complement in a unique manner the spiritual fatherhood of his biological father and the whole family. As a seminarian, he helps bring faith and prayer into family life in ways he could never have done if he were not a seminarian. As a young priest he will be asked to pray and celebrate the Sacraments with his immediate family and all his relatives. He will celebrate the weddings of his siblings and baptize their children. He will even hear some confessions of his family. He will inspire them to think about their own vocations. Some will come back to Christ through his priestly ministry and presence. A very beautiful part of his spiritual fatherhood will come to life as he will someday celebrate the weddings of his nieces and nephews and the baptisms begin all over again. He will anoint family members when they are ill or prepare for surgery. He will be a spiritual mentor to his parents as they face older age, sicknesses, tragedies, and even death. As his parents pass away, the priest in the family will be the spiritual father for the family to guide them and prepare them for the ultimate questions and our ultimate reunion with the Lord and one another in Heaven.
As Vocation Director I often will remind a family of a seminarian of the gift of having a priest in the family and that his ministry will impact all of their spiritual lives forever. Thus, there is a profound spiritual fatherhood in any family who is blessed to have one of their young men called to the priesthood.