Name: Phil and Sue Roush, parents of Eric Roush
How many children are in your family? Are all members of your family Catholic?
There are four sons in our family. Our two youngest sons are of the Catholic faith.
Were you raised in a Catholic family? How has that affected your support of your son?
We were not raised in Catholic families. Our backgrounds are both in the United Methodist church. Even though we might not have all the same religious beliefs, we have always supported our children in whatever decisions they strive to accomplish.
When you first learned your son was considering becoming a priest, what were the positive feelings that came from that news? What were the things you were concerned about?
Personally, we thought Eric was leaning toward the priesthood shortly after he joined the Catholic Church while he was a student at Miami University. He became very active immediately after joining the church. It took him almost ten years to make the commitment to priesthood. We have always supported Eric’s decisions toward careers and are sure this is the proper decision for him. Our concern that the might become a priest was the possibility that we might not have much contact with him, which would be heartbreaking for us.
What changes have you seen in your son as he has answered God’s call to the priesthood?
There is genuine joy in his voice and he expresses excitement about his decision to become a priest. He is genuinely looking toward the future of being able to serve the Lord as a priest.
What has been the biggest positive surprise that has come from your son being called to the priesthood? What fears do you have for him?
When Eric first told us of the options he was considering, we became fearful that we wouldn’t see him much or hear from him regularly when he was in seminary. That would be heartbreaking for a parent. As he made his final decision on what order to enter, we became much relieved about our fears and feel more positive about his pursuit of his dreams.
As a priest, your son will never have a wife and children of his own. Likewise, you will not have the joy of loving grandchildren from him. What have been your thoughts regarding this issue?
Whether Eric becomes a priest or not, he may never give us a daughter-in-law or grandchildren. Eric thought we would be disappointed in him if he never married or had children. We told him not to think that way. We will continue to support him in whatever life brings his way.
What things about his home life do you think helped inspire your son to be open to God’s call? What advice would you give to a parent who wants to encourage their son(s) to consider priesthood as a real possibility for their lives? What would you say to those parents who might strongly oppose their son becoming a priest?
We have always encouraged our children to be independent and free to discover and learn what would be best for them. We also believe that we must support their decisions in a positive manner. Life is too short for us to believe that we know what is best for each of our children and to express strong opposition to most individual choices. This is particularly true toward career goals and objectives.
Have there been any specific issues regarding the Church that have made you worry about your son’s vocation? How have you dealt with those anxieties?
We share the concerns expressed through the media regarding problems with priests who molest, steal money or have other disruptive issues. It is also apparent that similar issues are not unique to the Catholic Church and occur in other churches and religions. Our son is of strong will and ethics and will be able to handle situations that arise whether from within or without the church.