By DAVID SEDEÑO
Texas Catholic Staff
COPPELL — When young men answer the call to the priesthood, many of them have the support of their family.
When brothers Jeffrey and Michael Baynham said they felt called to the priesthood — on the same day — they went, separately, to their mother to ask for guidance.
Marcie Henry remembers encouraging Jeff, who was older, to seek out the next steps in the discernment process, and telling her youngest son, who was 15 at the time, to think about it a little more so that he would be sure of his decision.
“I said that I wanted him to experience high school before we went on to this subject and especially because it was two in one day,” she said.
Today, Jeffrey, 21, is a junior at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving and his 18-year-old brother is a freshman there.
Even though their mother discounts that she had any influence on them, a look around the living room of her home reveals images that tell the story of Jeffrey and Michael — and two other brothers — grounded in faith and family.
Along with crosses and crucifixes that adorn some walls, there are photos of the boys in baseball uniforms and of them in their Boy Scout uniforms.
Father Rodolfo García, the director of the Vocations Office for the Diocese of Dallas, said that the support of the family is very important in allowing young men the freedom to discern about the priesthood.
“Pope John Paul II used to say that the family is the first seminary,” Father García said. “The family is where they learn to love, where they learn to acquire their Christian values, their human values.”
Henry and her sons recalled how they felt that God was testing their faith when their father, Mark Baynham, suffered a heart attack and then loss of oxygen to his brain. He was in a vegetative state for three years before passing away in 1998.
Later, the family moved from Irving to Coppell and became members of St. Ann’s Church. The Life Teen program there, the young men said, became an important part of their lives.
It was through that program that included fellowships, prayers and frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that they felt called to the priesthood.
“When you love someone, you don’t tell them everything at once and God didn’t tell me everything at one time,” Jeffrey Baynham said.
And through it all, Michael Baynham said that he felt like running away from the call.
“But at the same time it was always in the back of my head. I couldn’t get away from it as hard as I tried.”
Father Garcia also said that he appreciated the donations to vocations through the 2008 Catholic Community Appeal because it helps pay for the seminarians’ formation.
“From the CCA is where we get most of our tuition, room and board for our seminarians,” Father García said.
Marcie Henry and her husband, Thomas, acknowledge that their sons are good role models and that they continue praying for them.
“I feed off of them,” she said. “The best part for me being a parent is just watching. The only thing that I can do is to pray that they seek God’s will. This is God’s work, not mine.”
(c) 2009 Texas Catholic Online