Fifth Luminous Mystery
The Institution of the Holy Eucharist
Fruit of the Mystery: Eucharistic Adoration
A Little Spiritual Mother for Priests
by Janet Plonka
I grew up in a strong Catholic home where the Bible was highlighted, read and evening family rosaries were prayed. Looking back on my younger life I realize my dad was a priestly father. Both of my parents were very devout and lived a life of servanthood for their family. Dad shared with me that at the age of eight years old he desired to become a priest but later in life was called to the married life as there were no late vocations. My dad instilled in me as a young woman to “Never tempt a man if he is called to the seminary, always remain at arm’s length but encourage him to it”. My mother shared strongly “No priests, no Eucharist!”
I worked at an insurance company and one warm spring afternoon was called to cover phones for the entire department. All were attending a meeting except for this man who was on the other side of the cubicle divider. I introduced myself and he said his name was Deven. I asked how long you have worked here, and he replied, “Not long I’m here temporarily and will enter the entering the Seminary in a few months.” I immediately got up, walked around to his side of his cubicle, went on my knees, looked up at him with unexplainable joy and asked “You want to be a priest to devote your life to Christ!?” He said “Yes!” A friendship was born along with a little spark. The small still voice of my dad reminded me to “Always remain arm’s length but encourage him to it”
Deven and I would spend many lunches walking and talking about our love for Our Lord and the Blessed Mother, the Holy Rosary. I asked how the Lord called him to this holy vocation? His shared that his mother said that at the age of five he had memorized the holy Mass. His mother knew he had the calling, fostering it throughout his school years but instead he entered a secular college with parties and girls. He graduated into a high paying salary and a fancy car but as time went by, he found this life unfulfilling.
Deven once again considered his first calling which he felt as a child, a call to the priesthood. With the help of a priest friend he decided to quit his career, and work temporally while applying to seminary. At this time his brother was applying for a job close to the city and if he got the job Deven would move out of his apartment and have his brother move in with his roommate. Deven would move home with his parents and enter the seminary in the Fall. Thankfully, this took place and was a relief along with some sadness. Deven would move back to his home state over an hour away.
We knew deep within our souls this was God’s way of “protecting us” as we were heading into summer and a little romance was in the air.
“Always remain arm’s length but to encourage him to it”.
I would visit Deven at the seminary and always had a sense to dress modestly without even realizing it. I invited him to a weekday Holy Mass with my dad and Adoration. During Adoration I had a very strong sense that Deven didn’t belong to me but to the Blessed Virgin Mother. I was to help, encourage lead him to the priesthood. Time passed, and by late summer he shared with me that he, along with five of his seminarian friends, were chosen to study in Rome. His parents were hosting a party for Deven and his friends and I was invited. This would be the first time I would meet his mom, dad and cousin who had heard about me.
They were greatly concerned if I, this woman, would lead him away from his true calling to be a priest. They soon realized I was almost as joyful as Deven was regarding his future life! His mom shared that he talked a lot about me and had even said “Mom, if I wasn’t called to be a priest, I would have married her!” I was very honored and humbled, but I said to his relieved mom “Deven is not meant to be my boyfriend, husband or the father of my children but he is meant to be the priest in my life. To marry me, baptize my children and bury my parents.”
The night was ending, I thanked his family for inviting me and Deven walked me out to my car. It was a beautiful evening with the moon and stars shining on us. We were standing closely, gazing into each other’s eyes, just smiled with a bittersweetness between us. I said “Deven, go and be a good seminarian” As I entered the car and turned on the engine he leaned down and kissed me awkwardly. He said, “I’m sorry but I had to do this, and you are the last woman I will ever kiss.” I replied with a smile.
The arm’s length became an embrace of loving and of letting go.
A few years later I was invited to his ordination in Rome with his mom, dad and cousin but I had met my future husband. We were, however able to attend his first Holy Mass when he returned to his hometown. He said his homily and at one point, he looked right at me and said “The Lord and His Holy Mother brought some special people into my life. It was her and her family who helped me, prayed numerous rosaries for me and encouraged me to make the final step into priesthood.”
Fr. Deven didn’t marry us as he returned to Rome to study Canon law, but when he did return, he would go on to baptize our firstborn daughter and later say the funeral Mass for my dad as my father had requested that he do. It has been over twenty-five years since the warm spring months when we first met and even though we don’t speak as much now our bond remains. Looking back I didn’t realize I was in some way a little “spiritual mother” to him (I didn’t know there was such a gift!) Through praying for him, many phone calls to Rome, encouraging him not to give up, even being at times a bit firm with him to teach the truth and pray his rosary.
I would repeatedly remind him that he was to continue what the Lord Jesus started over 2,000 years ago on Holy Thursday; the Institution of the Holy Eucharist would continue on through him. It was my dad, my mom and Fr. Deven who led me to deeply love the priesthood through the Blessed Virgin Mary and Adoration.
This experience with my priestly friend was just the beginning of spiritual motherhood in my life. I began offering frequent prayers and holy hours for the good of the Church and Her shepherds. One day I got an email about clergy support for our diocese which led to the formation of a special prayer group: Little Spiritual Mothers for Priests. The idea is to adopt a priest to pray for, to spiritually aid them in their work. It’s a developing effort but one already making an impact.
I share this part of my spiritual journey in the hope that others will be inspired to pray for priests as well!
About Janet: Janet is a wife, mother, adorer of Jesus, lover of tradition and little spiritual mother to priests living a devout Catholic life in Massachusetts.