Mother of Twin Priests: The Greatest Wealth for Parents is to Have Sons Who Are Priests

For Eliete, seeing today’s world, listening to today’s news, there is eternal gratitude to God for having called her sons.

Mother of twin priests Eliete Dahan dos Santos says “there is no greater wealth than having priest sons.”
Mother of twin priests Eliete Dahan dos Santos says “there is no greater wealth than having priest sons.” (photo: Personal album of Father Wallace Dahan dos Santos)

“I believe there is no greater wealth for parents than having sons who are priests, because the priest, especially when he administers the sacraments, is Jesus in them. It’s something very sacred,” said Eliete Dahan dos Santos, 79, mother of twin priests Wallace and Wellington Dahan dos Santos of the Archdiocese of Niterói in Brazil.

“People say: ‘Can my son be a priest?’ They are very happy if that happens with other people’s sons but not with their own. They want them to be doctors, lawyers, people with a lot of power,” continued Eliete, who said that “it’s a great gift from God” to have sons who are priests.

For Eliete, seeing today’s world, listening to today’s news, there is eternal gratitude to God for having called her sons, “both of them.” 

“I find myself within a great mystery, a very visible love of God for my family,” she said.

The twin priests Wallace and Wellington, 51, were born in Cabo Frío in the state of Río de Janeiro, where their mother, Eliete, still lives today. They also have an older brother, Jennerson Dahan dos Santos, who is married and has a daughter.

Eliete shared with ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news partner, that she was born into a Catholic family but that she “wasn’t assiduous or persevering.” After marrying Jenner Antônio dos Santos, she began to participate in some events in the Catholic Church such as Marriage Encounter, Cursillos in Christianity, and the Charismatic Renewal movement.

Catechist for 20 Years and First Communion Preparation

“I had a personal encounter with Jesus and I haven’t stopped,” she said. She was also a catechist for 20 years and was the one who prepared her sons, both future priests, for first Communion.

“God gave us the grace, to me and their father, to form and educate our children in the Christian life, and they persevered in a very beautiful way,” she said.

Seeing her twin sons priests and also her other son married and living with his family in a faithful, Catholic way is the most delicious fruit of her Christian journey, she said.

“I raised my children from a young age to follow God’s commandments; everything I learned in conferences and meetings I tried to live in my home,” she said. “So, they saw concretely everything I counseled them, when I said ‘no,’ why I said ‘no,’ when I said ‘yes,’ why I said ‘yes.’”

“I think we parents should do this, guide them with the presence of God in our lives. That’s what I did in my children’s lives,” Eliete reflected.

The Importance of a Life of Prayer

“If I gave a talk and they were present, I knew that my children were seeing how we really were in our home, there was no inconsistency, but a reality. So, this was a reason for them to fall in love with Jesus and follow religious life, because of the witness of their parents at home. I think witness is very important. We always try to live what we preach,” she explained.

Eliete also said that the family would attend Masses and have moments of prayer together. “We did novenas; when there weren’t any at church we did them at home. It wasn’t always possible to have our prayer life together, due to schedules, but when there was a possibility, we were together in our conversations, at meals, sharing our faith,” she said.

The mother also commented that her priest sons, Wallace and Wellington, “always had a great love for the Church.” After catechesis they continued with ongoing formation groups and participated in ecclesial activities. “For them everything that related to God, and the Church was indispensable.”

The Vocations of Her Priest Sons

It was when they were taking college prep classes that the twins felt the call to the priesthood. First it was Wellington who made the decision to enter the seminary and then Wallace, who waited a few months to make sure he was not being influenced by his brother.

Eliete recalled how she felt when her sons told her they wanted to be priests: “It was a shock at that time, because I didn’t see anything in them that made me think they would be priests, nor did I encourage them to be priests. It gave me and their father great joy to see them as young people participating in the Church. But does this beautiful call from God on my family cross my mind? I would never have thought that I would receive this grace, but it happened.”

The initial shock, Eliete shared, was soon replaced by “great joy.” 

“I was very moved to know that God, from my womb, called both of them, Father Wallace and Father Wellington, by name,” she said.

The Ordinations

For Eliete, the day of her sons’ ordination to the priesthood, June 29, 1998, was a very special day.

“I even have the words I’ve kept in my heart about what I felt at that moment. What came to my heart and remains to this day is: ‘Heaven opened before my eyes,’ because it was wonderful to see that my sons were being consecrated, they were being completely given to God. They were so young.”

“When they entered the seminary they were still 17 years old. They were ordained when they were 25 years old. They were still young, so I was moved by a great miracle, something divine that was happening in our family,” she said.

“To this day, with 25 years served in the priesthood I feel in my heart a joy that there are no words to express. I have great gratitude to my God,” she continued.

Eliete told ACI Digital that she lovingly keeps in a box “the cloth that enveloped her hands on ordination day.”

This white linen cloth, called a manutergium (hand towel), is used to wipe off the oil or chrism with which the bishop anoints the hands of the new priest on the day of his ordination.

According to tradition, when the priest’s mother dies, she must be buried holding this cloth in her hands. When the mother appears before God, he will tell her: “I gave you life. What did you give me?” Then she will hand him the manutergium and respond: “I have given you my son as a priest.”

“We don’t know who goes first, only God, who is the Lord of life, only he knows the day and hour of each person. I don’t know if anyone will remember at that moment, but I always tell them and show them the cloth,” Eliete concluded with a smile.