Different religious congregations have different charisms, and therefore different ways of handling their members’ relationships with their families. Certainly some orders are very strict in allowing their members visits back home or in permitting family members to come to visit—this is something that is particular to each order’s charism and spirituality. However, in the IVE there is a strong sense that we have a debt of gratitude to our families, and that our witness to religious life is particularly important when it comes to those who love us the most. This means that our seminarians usually spend about a month at home each year—two weeks during the summer and two weeks at Christmas. Also, if you happen to be near your family at some other point (during a mission trip, a pilgrimage, etc.—or if they happen to be visiting nearby) normally you can meet up with them then as well. Likewise, our men are encouraged to keep in touch with their families by e-mail and by phone. Obviously it can be a bit more difficult once someone is ordained depending on where in the world he is, but our priests are also allowed (and encouraged) to remain close to their families and to visit them for up to a month each year.
It is worth noting that this witness within one’s family has borne great fruit for our religious family; there are a remarkable number of siblings who are members of the IVE (and the SSVM)—it is really common for at least two siblings to enter, but there are a number of examples of three, four, five, and even more members of the same immediate family who have joined our religious family—the current record is held by the Prado family, which has 9 children (out of 15 children) who are in the IVE/SSVM, counting those in the minor seminary and aspirancy (for the SSVM). In fact, who knows what the final tally will be, since 5 of their other 6 children are under the age of 15! It just goes to show how compelling the witness of a joyful religious can be (by the grace of God) in transforming the hearts of the people with whom he comes into contact.
The Prado family. Not pictured are three of their missionary children, and two more (on the far left and the far right of the pic) have since entered the IVE!
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