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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

I apologize in advance for the seeming duplication of my question; however, I've searched your database, and searched other web sites as well, and I can't find an answer that seems to fit my specific situation. People tend to ask if its morally okay for them to delay having children.
I'm asking almost the opposite.

I am a 23 year old female from Indiana who has been with my fiancé for a little over two and
a half years. My fiancé and I are marrying in May and we feel called to have a large family.
Upon entering college, I felt called to serve the public as a health care professional, but now as
I prepare for my marriage I feel a much stronger calling to raise a family in the Catholic faith.

My fiancé has a decent paying job, but I have twice the initial earning potential that he does.
(I am in my fifth year of a six-year pharmacy program). Also, I am bringing into the marriage $100,000 + in school loans. We both feel called to start our family early into our marriage.

We do not want to base our decisions regarding faith and family largely on economic wealth and material comfort, but at the same time, we do not want to hurt our family by being financially irresponsible. We understand that the option exists for my fiancé to be a "stay at home" husband, but we both feel that, if possible, this role is much better filled by the mother. I am also a fairly gifted student, I have a 3.95 (GPA) Grade Point Average, and people have accused me of wanting to waste my talents, not to mention all the time and money I put into school, that could be otherwise used to benefit society. Ideally, I would like to be a mother and work part-time as a pharmacist, but if I can't find this sort of job, I believe my family deserves first priority.
Finding a job is further complicated by the fact that I do not wish to dispense oral contraceptives,
as I believe they can cause abortion — accordingly, my career options are extremely limited.
I discovered this conflict of morals much to late into my pharmacy curriculum to change majors.

Basically, my questions are:

  • Is it irresponsible for us to want to start a family when I am bringing so much debt to the table?
  • Is it wrong for me to want to "waste" my education — as so many people have so delicately put it?
  • Also, if we do start a family, how do we not get swallowed by the heaping mound of debt
    I currently carry?

We are both frugal and my fiancé is very concerned about the finances, but I believe that God would not put this calling so strongly in our hearts if he did not want us to follow it.

  • Can we just trust that God will provide or is that naive and lazy on my part for not wanting to work for more?

I'm having trouble untangling my calling in life from the web that society has spun around it.

Thank you so much for your time.

God Bless.


  { Is it irresponsible for us to start a family when I bring so much debt due to my pharmacy degree? }

John replied:

Dear Anonymous —

Thanks for your question.

The people who are telling you that you're wasting your education by staying at home and starting a family, to be quite frank, are idiots that have bought into the culture of death and consumerism.

It's wonderful that you have an education and some day, God may ask you to use it but if
He's calling you to start a family as soon as possible, then do so. It's never wrong to obey God. Moreover, the Church's teaching on artificial contraception is clear. It's always a sin. So just leave it in God's hands, He'll take care of the rest. If He wants you to have a big family and start soon after marriage, just hold up your end of the bargain like good, healthy newlyweds. You have no reason to feel guilty.

Now you do have financial considerations. That may mean making other sacrifices but where is it written that we need to have all the things we have in today's culture? Half the things I own today — and I'm by no means affluent  — quite the contrary, weren't invented when I was growing up as kid yet for some reason they are considered "must-have" necessities today. Last year, when I had life-threatening surgery and spent several months in a rehabilitation center, I realized that the only thing that mattered was my faith in God, my family and friends. I managed to do just find without a whole lot of stuff.

So this is something you and fiancé will need to talk about. If you want a family right away and you want a big one, you will have financial struggles, but if you love one another, you will probably be one of the happiest families on the planet and your kids will be some the happiest and healthiest, because they were born out of love and faith.


Eric replied:

Wow; I admire your commitment to the faith and your careful examination of the question.

This is not a common question so it is fine for you to submit it in that regard. However, with all the effort you put into articulating it, I hate to say it's somewhat far afield of our mission.
We tend to focus on hard facts about what the faith teaches; yours is more of a pastoral question.

  • Have you consulted a priest on this?
  • Have you considered getting a spiritual director?

I can certainly encourage you to trust in God, for finances and everything and I agree — and so would the Church — that your family is your first priority. You have already realized what
I intended to point out, viz., that it may be difficult for you to find a job you can morally accept. The Church has never ruled on whether it is legitimate to "waste" your talents in this fashion, but She esteems motherhood, and who is to say you can't eventually find a way to fulfill them in motherhood. This is a decision between you and God.

Do what you think, to the best of your knowledge, is right, and don't worry about it.
As St. Pio said:

Pray, hope, and don't worry.

But definitely look for a spiritual director or at least a priest-friend.

In short, I trust your judgment and I think you are on the right track. Whatever decision you make will be sound.


Mary Ann replied:

Dear Anonymous —

You do have a moral obligation to be prudent in preparing for marriage. One traditional way to exercise prudence is to come to marriage with the ability to support a family. It is not wrong for you to go from school to marriage, but it is imprudent to have a debt burden that is unbalanced to your income and likely to become a source of marital discord or problem.

There is one option you have not mentioned, and that is to delay marriage for two years and work full time during that time, living very frugally, perhaps with your parents, and to devote your salary to paying down your debt. Alternatively, you could marry in May and exercise marital chastity and (NFP) Natural Family Planning and delay childbearing for a year or two, devoting all your salary to your debt so that it is not an impossible burden. This latter option has the advantage of saving money by having only one home.

Do not worry about wasting your education. There are many part-time options for pharmacists, and soon enough, your children will be in school and then grown; you will be forty-five with twenty-five years of career ahead of you. If children come right away, in any case, you can always apply for an income-based loan repayment program. Do not underestimate the importance for a man of being able to be the major breadwinner.

Mary Ann

Anonymous replied:

Thank you all for your extremely quick responses.

I appreciate all your responses, even though my question was more opinion than Church doctrine based. Your various responses mirror those I've received from others. I have not yet spoken with a priest. Our current pastor tends to sit on the fence, which is very frustrating when looking for answers. I do understand, however, that I should seek advice from someone more "qualified" to provide spiritual counsel.

In response to your thoughts, Mary Ann, I'd like to clarify my intentions.

I do plan on initially working for an undetermined period of time to pay down my debts. Unfortunately, a problem does arise in finding a job (something everyone is struggling with right now), especially one in relative proximity to where my fiancé works. I'm sure you're all aware there is a "pharmacist shortage". Currently though, this is only seen in rural and inner city hospitals, specific retail locations, and at positions that require residencies or years of experience.
Most pharmacists are employed in the retail sector (Walgreens, CVS, etc.). If I choose not to dispense birth control, a stance which is only taken by very few conservative Catholic pharmacist, a retail job is out of the question. Many hospitals, because of the downturn in the economy, have had an increase in:

  • nonpaying patients, and
  • Medicaid and Medicare reimburse at below the cost to treat.

Because of this, they're only in need of clinical specialty pharmacists — a title which requires a two year residency. I pray that I will be able to find a job that aligns with my conscience. If I cannot though, I am forced to choose between dispensing oral contraceptives and doing what I feel is right. I have spoken to several priests and each has a different stance on this issue. Some say its up to me. More conservative priests say it should not be done or should only be done if absolutely necessary to support a family etc. I have thought all of these things through and I am not just an irresponsible young person rushing to get married. As you can probably tell, I tend to think things through much too thoroughly much too far in advance. At this point, I've probably done enough preparation, and I should just trust in the Lord and make the tough decisions as they come.

I strayed a bit there, but my point in providing you with this long response, is that I would like those considering health professions to be informed. I encourage you to speak with any young persons you know who are considering health careers, especially those in pharmacy. Please tell them to really think and pray about these decisions. The government continues to strip health care professionals of their rights and continues to mandate we do things we have moral objections too. These things can be avoided, but as our secular government gains more control, this avoidance becomes more challenging. I'm not asking you to talk them out of pursuing these careers; I believe we need more strong Catholics in these roles. I wish however, that they understand the struggles they will be up against in the future. The government, their professors, and sometimes even their families will most likely not support them in matters of faith that overlap with science.

Thank you for taking the time to help me.


Mary Ann replied:

Well, do good, avoid evil, and trust God. or, as Padre Pio says,

"Pray, hope, and don't worry."

You could also work in research, or start a compounding pharmacy!

You may also want to check out:

Pharmacists for Life International

Mary Ann

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