Skip to comments.Twin ordinands, youngest of 13, credit parents for priestly vocations
Posted on 05/03/2006 7:44:06 AM PDT by siunevada
ERIE, Pa. (CNS) -- Deacons James and Joseph Campbell -- twin brothers and the youngest in a family of 13 children -- credit their family life for their priestly vocations.
"My parents gave us an unwavering witness of selfless, self-sacrificing love and fidelity," said Deacon Joseph. "They inspired us to be holy by the witness of their lives and through their instruction in the faith."
The 26-year-old twins will be ordained to the priesthood June 23 at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie along with their classmate, Deacon Marc Solomon.
John and Dolores Campbell, the twins' parents, don't consider the way they reared their 13 children to be anything out of the ordinary.
"We raised our children the way we were brought up," said John Campbell, who was born in Scotland. That included attending Mass each morning and saying the rosary together each evening.
"Once the children got involved in sports, sometimes they would have to finish their rosary on the way to practice," Dolores Campbell said in an interview with Faith magazine, a publication of the Erie Diocese. "But we'd start it out together. I think that has really blessed our marriage and family life."
The entire family lived together under one roof for the first 11 years of the twins' lives.
"We had seven kids sleeping in one room at one time," Deacon James recalled. "Let's just say we didn't get much sleep during those years." But the close-knit clan wouldn't have had it any other way.
"Christmas was bedlam, absolute bedlam!" the Campbell patriarch said. "But it was so memorable. The children's friends all wanted to come and be with us on Christmas Eve because the atmosphere was so much fun."
It was an atmosphere in which guests were a regular part of the dinnertime routine, in which a grandfather was lovingly cared for during the last 10 years of his life and in which a young, single mom unrelated to the family found the help she needed raising her child until she managed to get through high school.
"When you're cooking for so many, what's an extra person?" Dolores Campbell asked.
It was also the kind of home in which the children understood and embraced their responsibilities from a young age. For 25 years the Campbell family had a paper route to cover the cost of the children's Catholic high school tuition, with the papers delivered before daily Mass.
"My older brothers and sisters often took me to confession and Mass with them, which played a huge part in my formation," said Deacon Joseph. "The quality time with them was priceless. They shared their lives with us and allowed us to share our experiences with them."
Deacons James and Joseph remember becoming aware of their calling to the priesthood at an early age. While they dispute the exact year-- one thinks they were 4 years old, one says they were 5 -- it was while participating in the annual novena at St. Ann Parish in Erie that a Redemptorist priest asked the boys what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Without ever having discussed it before, the spontaneous and simultaneous answer from both twins was "a priest."
"Ever since that moment, I've always had it in mind that God was calling me to the priesthood," said Deacon Joseph.
Even though an ocean has separated the Campbell twins for the last four years -- with Deacon James completing his degree at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa., and Deacon Joseph wrapping up his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome -- their comments and reflections in separate interviews were quite similar.
"What occupies my thoughts and feelings, my prayer, as I approach holy orders, is the immensity of the task to which I have been called and the great need for priests in our world today," said Deacon James.
Said Deacon Joseph: "There are a lot of big challenges in the world today, and the priest is called to lead the charge against a number of those challenges." He turned to sports to draw an analogy.
"I suppose the feeling is like that of an athlete preparing for a big game when he knows his team has to play against some notable adversary. You've just got to put on your game face and step out on the field."
Joining the Campbell twins on the "field" of priesthood this year is another man who is a twin, Deacon Daniel Hendrickson, 35, of San Francisco, who will be ordained a Jesuit priest and whose identical twin also is a Jesuit.
The ordination class of 2006 also includes men from a variety of professions -- at least three doctors and four attorneys, a U.S. Foreign Service officer, a real estate developer, teachers, a reporter, a parole officer, a casino worker, retired military officers, and government and corporate officials.
Family relationships influenced some. Deacon David Axtmann, 61, of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., has a son who is already a priest. Deacon Joseph Pins, of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, found himself called to the priesthood when he attended his father's ordination to the diaconate.
**Deacons James and Joseph remember becoming aware of their calling to the priesthood at an early age. While they dispute the exact year-- one thinks they were 4 years old, one says they were 5 -- it was while participating in the annual novena at St. Ann Parish in Erie that a Redemptorist priest asked the boys what they wanted to be when they grew up.**
My opinion is that we need to be asking all young men if they have ever thought about becoming a priest.
Likewise with young women, ask them if they have ever thought about dedicating their life to serving God and serving mankind at the same time.
Also -- does your parish have 24/7 Adoration. I understand that the number of vocations from these parishes surpasses those from other parishes.
what a family -- beautiful.
Part of me is grateful that these guys are becoming priests; another part is sad that they won't be raising their own large families to pass along their faith.
Great story! One of my sons has been saying he wants to be a priest (and a martyr!) since about age 5. You never know how things will turn out :-).
I'll guess that's a question to readers in general. We don't have 24/7. Twice a week for about four hours each day, Friday mornings and Sunday afternoons. I see our Vocations Director there pretty regularly on Sundays.