Happy Father’s Day! Such a day calls us to thank our fathers and to reflect on their roles in our lives. For those whose fathers are still living, rejoice and give thanks while time still allows. For others (myself included), who have already lost our fathers in this life, we relish memories and pray for the repose of their soul. This day is a good time to thank God for all the blessings we have received from our fathers. As we reflect on these blessings, our hearts glow more brightly as we contemplate the love we have received.
According to an online history, the origin of Father’s Day traces back to Spokane, Washington, in 1909 when a woman sitting in church heard a sermon on Mother’s Day and wanted to honor her father. Her mother had died in childbirth and her father had singlehandedly raised her and five other children. “At the first Father’s Day celebration, young women handed out red roses to their fathers during a church service, and large baskets full of roses were passed around, with attendees encouraged to pin on a rose in honor of their fathers – red for the living and white in memory of the deceased.”
In addition to the fathers who raised us, we have a chance to thank our spiritual fathers, our priests. Some years ago, before the evolution of cell phones, having a pager was special. I knew a seminarian who needed a pager for a summer assignment. He worked with the local phone company and they issued him a temporary pager under the “expectant fathers program” designed for dads awaiting the news that their wives had gone into labor. They decided that the seminarian was anticipating becoming a spiritual father and gave him the deal.
It’s not a light matter to be called “Father” by a spiritual family. As a new bishop, I am grateful to have had the opportunity in recent weeks to ordain two new priests to become spiritual fathers: Father Jacob McDaniel, who was ordained at Holy Angels Cathedral and will serve at St. Michael the Archangel in Schererville, and Father Abraham Joseph, OFM, a Franciscan who was ordained at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Cedar Lake, near the Franciscan friary. These men will exercise a genuine fatherhood as they love and care for the people of God. For those men who may be considering a priestly vocation, please know that it is a joy and a privilege that the people of God call us “Father.” Such a term reminds us of the love, self-sacrifice and care that we have for our flock. The life of a priest is a calling to be a genuine father.
The model for all fathers is God, Our Father. Jesus revealed to us the intimate love of the Father. He was in constant communication with the Father and he draws us into that loving relationship. Many of us see God the Father through the lens of our loving fathers. Yet, there are some who, through a difficult upbringing, have a more painful experience of “father.” When Jesus revealed God as Father, he pulled us into a relationship with the most perfect Father – God Himself.
This Father’s Day, we can call upon God and ask him to meet all of our needs, regardless of whether our earthly fathers are able to do so. We can also seek the intercession of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. Fathers can look to St. Joseph as a model. All of us can seek his intercession – whether we desire to become better fathers or to ask that God the Father will meet our needs.
May you have a blessed Father’s Day. Thanks to all fathers, and thank God that he loves us with the perfect love of the Father.
Jesus, I Trust in You!
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary