Uniting the Children

Tomorrow we will be taking my daughter Mary Kate to the airport, as she embarks on her new life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

We”ve seen this coming for awhile, but I”m not sure anyone is ever quite ready to have their teenage daughter do something like this. But make no mistake: Mary Kate is ready. As for my readiness, I haven”t been so sure!

Speaking of readiness, check out this recent interview given by one of the “oldtimers” entering the Dominican community this weekend–a 2010 summa cum laude Harvard graduate! 

Anyway, last Sunday at Mass many emotions were running through my head. While I honestly can”t think of anything better she can do with her life–and I”m so proud of who she is and of her generous response to Our Lord”s call–I was still feeling a sense of loss.

Fr. Anthony chose Eucharistic Prayer III. I really like this particular Eucharistic Prayer. One phrase that has had rich meaning for me through the years is, “Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here . . .” as I’2012-04-24 18:34:54′ve written frequently on the image of the Church as the “family of God,” as well as on the “parish family.”

But last Sunday it was the next line that really struck me:

“In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.”

Even though Mary Kate will be in a cloister nearly a thousand miles away, we will still be united in God”s mercy and love, particularly through our participation in the Eucharist and in the life of the Church in general (a “communion of saints” thing). This is another one of those teachings to which we give notional assent, but every now and then we have moments in which a truth of the faith penetrates us in a more real, experiential way. I”m not really “losing” my dear Mary Kate at all!

Now, I”m the Dick Vermeil of Catholic fathers (I”ve cried all 23 times I”ve seen It”s a Wonderful Life, if that”s any indication), so I”m sure I”m going to shed some more tears. But they will be tears of joy and thanksgiving. 

It”s all right here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 2232-33):

“Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). . . .

“Parents should welcome and respect with joy and thanksgiving the Lord”s call to one of their children to follow him in virginity for the sake of the Kingdom in the consecrated life or in priestly ministry.”

8 Responses to “Uniting the Children”

  1. N Martinez says:

    Well, first I have to say: What? You”ve only seen [i]It”s a Wonderful Life[/i] 23 times?

    Seriously, I”ll be praying for Mary Kate and your entire family as you go through this transition…but what a wonderful transition. Our children always have to leave the nest, but what better way to do so than following the will of God, in whatever capacity that may be.

    Hang in there, Leon. Your little girl found the perfect husband.


  2. Gail Buckley says:

    Great posting, Leon. I definitely agree with you. While it is always difficult for a parent to see their children grow up and leave the nest, get married and start a new life, we have to let them go. But what a special blessing to have a daughter or a son who has been chosen by God as Mary Kate has been. I am so proud of her – proud to know that I”ve been a part of her life and that she is now becoming a bride of Christ. I know that she will be a wonderful nun. I know how much she loves the Lord and how devoted she is to serving Him. I know that your tears will be tears of joy as well as pain at letting go of your little girl.

    So many fathers this time of year are saying goodbye to their daughters who are off to college for the first time. These fathers certainly must feel some fear knowing what kind of world we live in today and all the crazy things that go on at college campuses. Any father would have to have feel some trepidation when their "little girl" goes off to college. At least you can be absolutely sure that Mary Kate will be completely safe and that her Spouse loves her even more than you do. What a great comfort that must be. My love and prayers are with her and with you, Maureen and all the family. I will miss my weekly phone conversations with MK but I am so happy for her.

  3. Gregory Sanchez says:

    God Bless Mary Kate, and all of your family Leon!!! We have no other responsibilty than as earthly fathers to lead our families to our Lord.
    Well done and I promise to keep Mary Kate and your family in my daily prayers.

    It is a privilege to be your friend!

    Greg Sanchez

  4. leon says:

    Thanks, Nicke, Gail, and Greg! I want to also thank those who have sent various messages to my family and me through other means. I thought I would share this particularly beautiful note from a friend in Wisconsin:

    Bud, like something frozen in amber or those photos of Marilyn Monroe, Mary Kate is frozen in time for me, as I have no experience of her other than as a beautiful, sweet, shy little girl. So when you say she”s getting on a plane today, I picture this 4-6 year-old-child walking down that jet way, and it”s hard for me to fathom (even though I know logically she is a young woman). I start to cry, too. And if I do so over the entrance into the religious life of a very nice young lady who I haven”t seen in 12 years, what will it be like when my own Kaitlin, my oldest daughter, makes that leap (as I suspect and pray she will, God”s will be done)?

    My prayers are truly with all of you this morning. If the opportunity presents itself, please tell your daughter of my best wishes, my congratulations, and my prayers. She left an indelible impression on me, and Holy Mother Church is very fortunate to have her serving Our Lord Jesus Christ in this way. I feel more confident in her prospects for the future now that Mary Kate is entering.

    God bless you, and may we always be united in mercy and love wherever we may be.

  5. Tom R. says:

    Congratulations and God bless you all!

  6. Joan Piwowar says:

    How blessed you must all feel! As hard as it is to let her go, she is in the best Hands. May God Bless her and you and your family abundantly.

  7. leon says:

    For those who are interested, the sisters have posted a photo of the new aspirants along with their vocation stories. Go to the sisters” site at http://www.sistersofmary.org/index.php and then at the right side of the page click on "Aspirant stories" under "What”s New?"

    Thanks again for the outpouring of love and prayers!

  8. petebrown says:


    I just wanted to congratulate you on the wonderful news. My Columbus K of C council many years ago sponsored a recruiting event for this community. Liz and I wish Mary Kate all the best!!!

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