Photo: Chao Wang
Mother and son on the day of his ordination! Father John now serves as the Marians' assistant postulant master in Steubenville, Ohio.
Conversations with Moms: 'Out of the Blue'
May 10, 2010
In celebration of this, the Year for Priests, the following is the second in a series of stories in which the mothers of Marian priests give the "inside story" on their sons' vocations. In this installment, we speak to Janice Larson, mother of Fr. John Larson, MIC.
By Sarah Chichester
Moms, as a whole, have a sixth sense when it comes to their children. It's a "mom sense," an intuition that is hard to describe or pin down but that essentially gives them the ability to sniff out the struggles and triumphs in their children's lives.
So you can imagine the surprise of Janice Larson when, without warning through her "mom sense," her son John called her out of the blue and casually told her he was going to become a priest.
No question, the future Fr. John Larson, MIC, a native of Wisconsin, was independent minded. He had been working as a computer programmer in Florida for about four and a half years. Little did his mother know that in 1990, at the age of 19, while listening to Christian rock music, her son decided to commit his life to Christ and that two years later he began to sense a call to the priesthood. He eventually looked into several different religious communities until deciding on the Marians. Then he called his parents and announced, "I'm going to become a priest."
Mrs. Larson took this surprise announcement in stride. When her son was ready to join the Marians, she and her husband John helped him make the move.
The Marians were unfamiliar to her. She admits she had a slight uneasiness dropping her son off with an order she didn't know. "But when we took him there I knew that he had made a good choice. They were very nice men, and I knew that it was a good thing," she said.
Her assurance of Fr. John's vocation continued through his years of formation and ultimately his ordination to the priesthood on Feb. 11, 2006.
With simple charm Mrs. Larson recalls her first impression:
"After he became a priest, he went to sit among the priests. I looked and I thought, Oh my goodness! He's made a mistake — he shouldn't be sitting there. And then all of a sudden I remembered, Oh yes, he's a priest and that's where he sits."
Over time she's gotten used to her son being a priest, but she is still moved with emotion every time her son says Mass.
While some might consider Fr. John's vocation akin to the heart-wrenching sacrifice of Abraham, Mrs. Larson sees it differently. Her only child, she said, has offered himself as a gift to God, and she is proud of him.
"We always do what we can for him," she said. "We don't consider his vocation a sacrifice."
Still, was it hard for her to accept her son's vocation?
"No — there was never any question of that in my mind," she said. "When he said it, I knew that he had chosen it and that it was a great blessing."
Mothers are curious beings, capable of much love and more often than not, willing to do much for their children. Mothers can also take great pride in their children and their children's accomplishments. Mrs. Larson is definitely one of these moms. Surprised as she was at first, she now says, "I'm the mother of a priest! I don't think that there's any greater honor."
Sarah Chichester works for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, based in Stockbridge, Mass.