Group forming to support parents whose children join convents or monasteries

St. Marie-Azélie “Zélie” Martin née Guérin (1831-1877), is the wife of St. Louis Martin and the mother of St. Thérèse de Lisieux. St. Louis Martin (1823-1894) was canonized in 2015. He is the husband of St. Zélie Martin and the father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. (Public domain)

Want to join or want more information?
Those with questions about or interest in joining the Sodality of Zelie and Louis may email Kathleen at [email protected]. A meeting for those interested in the Sodality, another word for a religious guild, is scheduled after the 8 a.m. Mass Saturday, Feb. 17, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. The meeting will be in Stewardship Hall.

Watching a son or daughter go off to college is much different than seeing them leave to enter a seminary or convent.

Few know more about that than Kathleen Timmermeyer.

She and her husband, Bob, have watched three sons pack their bags to discern a vocation to the priesthood. Two ultimately chose married life. The third, Luke, is in his second year of college at the St. Joseph House of Formation in Wichita.

One daughter a postulant

One of the Timmermeyer’s nine children, Lilly, is now a postulant with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters in Colwich. She discerned after several years, taking part in a couple of Fiat retreats, and entered the IHMs this past August.

“We’re very familiar with the seminarian-diocese relationship. Many years ago, a group for the parents – and specifically the mothers – was formed to be a support group, because it’s a different walk when your son embarks on that,” Kathleen said.

MODS for seminarian mothers

The group is called MODS, Mothers of Diocesan Seminarians. Those who join the group learn about the challenges and joys of those who have been involved for years.

“There is a lot of emotional support, and friendships were built because our sons were walking similar walks,” she said.

Kathleen added that having a daughter as a postulant is different than having a son in the seminary. “The life of a discerning religious is so different than that of a seminarian and as a parent, it’s a little more isolating. That is compounded by the fact that there is no group for parents or families to support each other.”

She approached Fr. Chad Arnold, the diocesan director of Seminarians, about ways those parents could support each other. He told her he had been praying about an effort to bring parents together for mutual support for a long time and asked Kathleen to assist in an effort to create a community of parents of men and women considering monastic or religious life.

Sodality supports parents, too

The group, the Sodality of Zelie and Louis Martin, will support families and create a network of families on a similar journey. Saints Louis and Zelie Martin were the parents of five nuns, including St. Thérèse of Lisieux. They were canonized in 2015, the first spouses canonized as a couple.

The Sodality hopes to bring about an awareness of the beauty of monastic and religious life.

“There are families that struggle when their child comes and says, ‘I want to enter a religious order,’ because there is a separation from the family unit in a unique way,” Kathleen said. “Although there is a separation which can be difficult to navigate, there is beauty and joy in watching your son or daughter pursue a calling only from God.”

The group is looking for families in the Wichita diocese who have a son or daughter discerning or living the religious community life. The child doesn’t necessarily need to be in a community in the diocese. Kathleen has reached out to the Catholic high schools in our diocese to share information about the Sodality with parents of students who have gone on to pursue a vocation in religious life.