Detroit Stories Episode 44: When 'Father' is Also 'Son' (PODCAST)

Parents of Archdiocese of Detroit priests talk about the joys, challenges and blessings of raising a member of the clergy

(0:04) The narrator talks about Catholics’ perspectives about their priests, who can take on a larger-than-life persona and at times seem almost superhuman with everything they take on — caring for their parishes, being a spiritual refuge for their flock, and providing God’s people with the sacraments. But priests also have parents, who take a very different view.

(0:50) Mark and Susan Tibai, parents of Fr. Mark Tibai of St. Fabian Parish in Farmington Hills, talk about what it’s like when their son comes home for the holidays. Gail Lajiness, the mother of Msgr. Todd Lajiness of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, and Amy Roelant, the mother of Fr. Kevin Roelant of St. Thecla Parish in Clinton Township, add their perspectives.

(2:29) Ann Heenan, the mother of Fr. Grayson Heenan of St. Andrew Parish in Rochester, talks about the reaction she gets from other parishioners when they learn she raised a priest — a mix of awe, curiosity and adulation.

(4:17) The Roelants discuss how they knew Fr. Kevin had a calling to the priesthood since he was little. Gail Lajiness says her son’s vocation was an answer to prayer.

(6:40) Not all parents were as sure of their son’s calling. The decision of their son to enter the seminary came as a shock to Fr. Heenan’s parents, who had dreamt of grandchildren. There was a period of sadness when they realized that wouldn’t happen, but Fr. Heenan’s priesthood has been a blessing in its own way, they say.

(9:50) The Tibais had a feeling their son would enter the seminary, but that didn’t make it any easier when the rural country family had to drop him off in the middle of Detroit, where Sacred Heart Major Seminary resides.

(11:19) Amy Roelant discusses the unspoken bond parents of priests share with one another. At Fr. Kevin’s ordination, she recalls sharing a moment with the mother of another priest, who became emotional at the sight of her son’s “wedding day.”

(13:33) Parents share the blessings that come from their sons’ vocations, including Masses celebrated at home, pride in watching their child lead a family of faith, and joy in watching others’ lives changed because of their son’s ministry.

(15:16) Even though the life of a priest is busy, they all stress, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have time for family. They discuss sharing their son during the holidays and weekends, but say that makes the time spent visiting even more special.

(16:16) Parents talk about the spiritual benefits to their own lives that have come from their sons’ vocations.

(18:50) Fr. Tibai’s parents give advice to other parents whose sons are considering a vocation. With a priest shortage in the Archdiocese of Detroit, it’s imperative that families are supportive of their sons, they say, praying for God’s will and trusting in the Holy Spirit, which ultimately leads to happiness and fulfillment.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Leah Butalid; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode is brought to you by Angela Hospice, helping families provide the best care possible for the people they love. Visit us at

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