The Essence of Fatherhood

06-19-2022Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Most post pubescent males can father a child. Fathering a child is vastly different from being a good father. So, what does it take to be a good father? On this Father’s Day, I would like to address the vital role my father holds in my life and the important role of the father in the life of his family.


Of the many lessons I received from my father, his willingness to be present to our family keeps our family rooted and focused on what is essential. Running his own business could have easily consumed him and kept him away from our family. I cannot remember my dad ever missing dinner with the family. However, his presence wasn’t just at dinnertime. I also recall that our family was usually together on the weekends. Whether we were doing chores around the house, mowing the lawn or heading to the lake for some fun, it was dad, with mom at his side, leading the charge by being present.

Dad brought order and from that came peace. God, family, and everything else was the way dad prioritized things for our family. Dad made sure we never missed Mass. Every Sunday, Mom and Dad would corral the five children into the family station wagon and off we would go. It wasn’t even a discussion. It was just what we did… and still do. I have no doubt that my dad’s presence made all the difference in creating a solid way of life for his family.

What does it mean to “father”? In a reflection on fatherhood, Pope Francis explains: “When a man does not have this desire [for fatherhood], something is missing in this man. Something is wrong. All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate. Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life.” Bishop Olmsted once wrote, ‘This is why fatherhood – living out one’s vocation to fatherhood, whether that fatherhood is bound up in physical marriage or spiritual marriage in the priesthood or religious life – is absolutely essential for a man to live out the fullness of his meaning in life. We speak of the Church Fathers, the Desert Fathers, our pope as Holy Father, and, for good reason, our priests as ‘Father’”.

Of course, my dad could be firm at times. He had to be. We were five rowdy kids who would push the limits at times. Dad, with Mom at his side, was there to show us the way to live and to love. Sure, we could test his patience, he is human, but growing up we knew he loved us. Dad was strict but dad knew how to show mercy. “A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart,” Pope Francis said. “Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: He is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself.”

Dad knew what really mattered in life. “Say your prayers” he would often say. My dad knew the source of everything he had or anything he would become was to be found in God alone. Pope Francis reminds us to keep Jesus at the center: “We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong.” More sternly, the pope professes: “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.” A good dad knows how to lead by example when he has to, but he also knows that doing anything without God at the center is not worth doing.

I thank God for my Dad and for all good dads. I pray that all fathers would remain faithful servants of the Church. May they find in Her the courage and the strength to be the husband and father God calls them to be. “The Church, our mother, is committed to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers in families, for they are the irreplaceable guardians and mediators of faith in goodness, of faith in justice and in God’s protection, like St. Joseph,” said Pope Francis.

I encourage all fathers and indeed all families to pray this very ancient and beautiful prayer to St. Joseph.

Wishing you all a blessed Father’s Day.

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Prayer to St. Joseph the Workman Composed by Pope St. Pius X

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.