Bob and Dolores Picollo are as proud today of their son, Father Christopher Picollo, as they were on his 2011 Ordination Day in Trenton’s Cathedral. Father Picollo is now pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown. Craig Pittelli photo
Bob and Dolores Picollo are as proud today of their son, Father Christopher Picollo, as they were on his 2011 Ordination Day in Trenton’s Cathedral. Father Picollo is now pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown. Craig Pittelli photo

When Dora M. Blanchett learned her son, Edward, was considering the priesthood, she asked, “Are you sure?” She and her husband, Donald “Eddie” Blanchett, then encouraged him to pursue his priestly vocation.

“He had been married, and his wife died of leukemia. But God does the things he thinks are best for us,” Dora Blanchett recalled. “One day he talked to us, saying, ‘I don’t know if it’s just a feeling, but I’m going to go into the seminary’ … it was his calling from God.”

Now a priest for 15 years, Father Edward Blanchett is pastor of Visitation Parish, Brick.

“We are very proud of him. He has always been very good, and he continues being very good,” his mother said happily.

Having support and blessing, particularly from parents, is a major factor in the success of a priest’s vocation, many say. Knowing that his first instructors in the faith endorse his calling and profession can help give a priest the inspiration to pursue excellence in his ministry.

A Search for Something More

Bill and Ginger Large, members of St. Mary Parish, Middletown, said their son, John, was a typical teenager and young adult.

“He found himself searching for the truth,” Bill Large said, explaining his son was looking into other faith traditions. “That’s when we stepped in and asked if he would sit with Father Jeff [Kegley] – my spiritual director for 23 years and now our pastor – and just talk.”

The talk resulted in their son visiting the Perpetual Adoration Chapel – which his father attested was a turning point in the future priest’s spiritual life. Father John Large became a priest four years ago, and is now administrator in St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor.

“My wife and I have been 100 percent in support of his vocation since day one, and continue to pray to Our Blessed Lady for him daily, for spiritual strength,” Bill Large noted.

One of the first thoughts that came to Bill Large’s mind when his son mentioned a potential calling to the priesthood was his own mother’s endorsement of the possibility. His wife, Ginger, agreed.

“My mother-in-law used to rub his head and say, ‘You’re gonna be the priest in the family,’” Ginger Large recounted. The young Large was about five or six at the time.

Father Christopher Picollo, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, first told his parents, Bob and Dolores, of his interest in the priesthood in 2005, following several years of work in private industry and the federal government.

“It came as a surprise, but both of us were very supportive from the onset,” Bob Picollo said. The couple, members of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton, both came from strong Catholic upbringing, and “Chris being the first in our families to accept the calling to become a priest was well-received by all family members.”

Echoing other parents’ concerns, mother and father asked their son about his surety of entering the seminary, due to his having a secure job and already being out of college for seven years. “We thought this would be a major decision,” Bob Picollo said.

Life Transformed

Ginger Large is happy her son found something he was passionate about. “To see him doing something he loves – he’s out there spreading the Word – that’s his profession. I just felt so blessed,” she affirmed. “He’s a leader, he’s started youth groups and [parish] programs; he’s very active … So many people call and ask me to ask him to pray for something or someone.”

Added Bill Large, “We also pray that more families – especially parents – will encourage their children to [consider] priestly and religious vocations, just knowing the blessings.”

Since his ordination, Father Picollo’s parents have been proud of the priest their son has become. Both hope he will continue to be the best priest he can be, helping all in need.

“On numerous occasions, he has visited, prayed with and anointed many family members and friends,” his mother said. “It was a special moment when Chris gave us our 50th wedding anniversary blessing … He was the main celebrant recently at the funeral for his special-needs brother, Brian, and his homily was memorable to many family, friends and priests who attended.”

Dora Blanchett hopes her son will continue his priestly ministry. “[When God] beckons and calls you, and if you allow him to take you, you never go wrong.”