This Sunday, June 18, is the day we set aside to honor fathers. I invite us to give thanks and blessing this Father’s Day, not just to our biological fathers, but to all who have provided fatherly care along our journey.
The role of father is sometimes viewed as one that provides the foundation and framework for our homes and our lives — someone who at times is not present, but who is always in our lives and formation, giving an invaluable gift to all with whom he comes into contact.
My own father was a carpenter by trade, teaching me that hard work is a gift. He diligently worked outside in the heat of summer as well as the wet and cold of winter, while my siblings, mother and I were comfortable within the protection of our home or school.
My father was not an educated man in terms of today’s standards. His wisdom and education came from hard work and common sense. I do not ever recall him complaining about his work. He was proud of the homes he built and his life with his family.
Whether going to Mass as a family or helping someone in need, few words were spoken. Faith was the foundation and framework he gave us to live. My father was a quiet man who said “I love you” much louder in deeds and service than words.
Much of my vocational call to work for the church came through my dad’s challenge to accept all people as God’s and recognize that we are all doing the best we can with what we have and know.
My father-in-law was an educator by trade, teaching me the value of education and a good debate. A gentle man, he lived by example and set the standard high. Even as Parkinson’s disease took his speech, he would pray, mouthing the words that he could no longer speak aloud.
My husband and the father of our three sons was a great model and blessing. He was a devoted, faithful husband and father as he modeled and prepared each of our sons for the journey that God would call them to.
He, by his example, showed our sons how to be loving and committed husbands, fathers and sons. Dave, when diagnosed with cancer, cared for his sons’ and my needs beyond his own. He was a man of integrity, humor, family and faith. He continues beyond his death to profoundly affect our lives and how we live each day.
I have been blessed with many priestly “fathers.” They are the holy men who have helped me to recognize the value of commitment and service. With eyes forward they lead me, in the light of the Gospel, to who I am called to be. I am well aware of the sacrifices they make for our faith, parishes and church.
All these men, with very different qualities and gifts, are men that I honor on Father’s Day for the fathering they have provided in my life.
For all fathers and others who “father,” we give thanks. The special vocation of fatherhood is so very vital to the life of our church.
This year, once again, our sons and I will enter the day without our fathers living. Our fathers did not leave us by their choice. They have been welcomed into eternal life and love, and yet there is a deep pain that accompanies that reality. We move into this Father’s Day with one less — one less hug and kiss, one less conversation or shared meal, one less conversation on the meaning of life and the wisdom only our fathers can share.
It is difficult for me to anticipate this day, especially for our sons. Yet I know, death will not win. As we live and breathe in this world they will remain. For all those mourning the physical presence of your dads on Father’s Day, I am so sorry. I pray that in some ways we may each find a morsel of comfort in the presence of them that remains in us and one another.
Along with the tears that follow this day, I am so very grateful for all that I have had, for the great dad and father of our sons that I have been blessed to share life with.
To all fathers, Happy Father’s Day! In your faithfulness, gentlemen, you have the power to teach us the gift of hard work, lead us in prayer, instill in us the call of Jesus, model the beauty of serving others and, by attending Mass, lead us to the real gift of holy Eucharist.
On Father’s Day, we pause to recognize the blessing of these men standing before us as well as those who no longer are with us and say, “Thank you!”