DON BOSCO CENTER OF STUDIES
INSTITUTE OF THEOLOGICAL FORMATION
Paranaque City, Philippines
Author: Maria Divina de Aro Solano, MRS
Title: Spiritual Motherhood for Priests: A Necessary Vocation in the Church
Adviser: Fr. Ramon Garcia Jr., SDB, MATh, SThL
Degree: Master of Arts in Theology
Specialization: Sacred Scripture
Spiritual Motherhood for priests, the vocation of women to pray for the Church’s ordained ministers, is a little known vocation but one that the Congregation for the Clergy insists is of fundamental importance. This thesis paper attempts to promote a greater understanding of this type of spiritual maternity and, moreover, attempts to prove its necessity in the life of the Church. It investigates the vocation’s meaning and purpose by examining its Marian character and its connection to the priesthood through the reading and analysis of sources that directly and indirectly discuss this vocation, which traces its roots to Jn 19:25-27. It then draws from John Paul II’s theology of the body; because of the “special reciprocity” between male and female, there is a distinct contribution that only spiritual mothers—as women—can give, making them suitable helpers of priests.
That spiritual motherhood for priests is “necessary” does not mean that the priesthood owes its existence to this vocation. Rather, it is precisely because priesthood was instituted that spiritual motherhood for priests has a purpose. As a necessary help, the vocation is primarily concerned with the transmission of spiritual life to help make priests holy, which is accomplished by the power of the Spirit acting in the Mystical Body of Christ. Like Mary and John at the foot of the Cross, the priest and the spiritual mother are brought into a spiritual relationship as a community of disciples—the true family of Jesus. There exists between them mutual assistance, “special reciprocity,” that makes them a true community of persons, each helping to make the other holy: the priest, being in persona Christi, nourishes spiritual mothers through the sacraments, helping them to grow in their discipleship; in turn, a spiritual mother, being part of Jesus’ true family like Mary, nurtures priests into a greater likeness to Christ through prayers and sacrifices.