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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Family Dedicated to the Lord
How God honored his promises to a married couple with their six children.

El Sr. Heereman comparte su testimonio ante los 15.000 sacerdotes reunidos en la Plaza de San Pedro, durante las vigilia de oración de la clausura del Año Sacerdotal.
Mr. and Mrs. Heereman share their testimony with 15,000 priests in St Peter's Square during the prayer vigil at the conclusion of the Year for Priests.

The following testimony was given by the Heeremans, a married couple from Germany, during the prayer vigil with the Pope in St Peter’s Square this past June 10, on the occasion of the conclusion of the Year for Priests. The Heereman family’s six children are sprinkled across a wide range of vocations, with one priest, one religious brother, one consecrated virgin, two married sons, and an unmarried daughter who is a university student. The son who is a priest is Fr Sylvester Heereman, LC, the territorial director for Germany, and the religious brother is Br Vincent Heereman, LC.

Mr. Heereman: Eminencies, Excellencies, most reverend fathers, dear sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ: People often ask us: What did you do so that all of your children seek to follow Christ? We had to admit: We do not know the recipe. It was my mother that, when I was 19 years old, sent me in spite of my strong resistance on a pilgrimage with the Order of Malta to Our Lady of Lourdes.  This has decisively formed my spiritual and professional life.

Mrs. Heereman: That I chose to study theology was not due to my faith, but due to my doubts about
La familia Heereman testimonia todas las realidades de la vida cristiana. A la derecha aparece el P. Sylvester Heereman, L.C., director territorial de Alemania, y a la izquierda, el H. Vincenz Heereman, L.C.
The Heereman family giving testimony to a wide range of vocations among their children. (Far right: Fr Sylvester Heereman, LC; far left: Br Vincenz Heereman, LC.)
the faith. Studying theology, I thought, would help me to verify the credibility of our Christian faith. But here I was wrong; it was not my studies which turned me into a convinced Christian, but the example of my father who on his deathbed, at the age of 47, with the help of a Franciscan priest, approached his death with a deep and trusting relationship to God, confidently, I even would say, cheerfully.

Mr. Heereman: We got married at a young age and this same Franciscan priest set us on fire for our fait.

Mrs. Heereman: It was just natural for our children to express their questions, their doubts, and their critiques. Sunday Mass, saying grace, and their night prayers at their bedsides were our regular practices as a family.

Mr. Heereman: One day our eldest son, at the age of 19, approached us and insisted that we set down the newspaper. He had to tell us something important.

Mrs Heereman: He was so serious that it was totally evident to me that either he wants to join religious life or he has fathered a child. There was no hint of either. Thanks be to God, it was his vocation to the
Los Sres. Heereman, junto con sus hijos y nietos, en la Plaza de San Pedro de Roma.
The Heereman family in St Peter's Square.
priesthood he wanted to communicate to us.

Mr. Heereman: When he told this to his 9-year-old brother, the younger brother said laconically: “You copycat! I have always wanted to be a priest!” Today, he too, is in formation for the priesthood.

Mrs. Heereman: Our eldest daughter experienced the call to consecrated life after finishing her law degree and is presently completing her studies in theology in Rome. Two sons are married; alongside their jobs and studies, they have initiated and developed a missionary charity project for disabled and mentally handicapped young people in Lebanon.  And our youngest daughter just spent seven months in Lebanon, working in this project and has recently taken up her studies on Latin and Theology. And we have three wonderful grandchildren; two of them are here tonight.

Mr. Heereman: How do we manage to have a living faith? I only know one thing: Whenever the children had a question they would receive a detailed answer from their mother about their faith and the place of a Christian in politics and society.

Mrs. Heereman: I do not think that answers were so much decisive as the liturgical year which shaped our life. Advent, Lent, and other times of the year had their own character.

Mr. Heereman: When I was 12 years old, a priest told us at school that we should pray for our future wife. I started to do that then. And finally my prayer was perfectly answered. So my faith in prayer was strengthened. Later the desire grew in my heart that one of our sons should become a priest. So I started praying: “Lord, these are your children, do with them whatever pleases you. Call them to follow your Son as priests or lay people, unmarried or married.” And in one way or the other, He has taken all of them. I think in our case, the mother was decisive and I can prove that: out of six children, four have chosen to study theology and philosophy, just like their mother. And only one of them has taken up a secular career like his father. So dear future fathers, if you want your children to become vibrant Christians, choose your wife well. Of course, she does not need to be a theologian.

Mrs. Heereman: My counterproof is this: when our eldest son was about 12 years old, he one day reflected on the complementary roles of the two of us and he summarized his reflections in this way: Mommy, you tell us in theory how things should be done, and then we watch if Daddy really acts accordingly. So my dear future mothers, if you want your children to become living vibrant Christians, be careful whom you marry. And if you want to have grandchildren one day, watch out for the prayers of your husband, because otherwise six out of six might decide for a consecrated life.

Mr. Heereman: And so what: as you know, it is a wonderful vocation. Thank you!



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