Father’s Day shows dad’s importance Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd is known as the “Mother of Father’s Day.” In 1909, she heard a sermon on the need to set aside a day to honor mothers. She agreed, but she wondered why there wasn’t a day to honor fathers.

Her father, William Jackson Smart, left indelible marks of love on her heart.

He was a Civil War veteran and a widower for 21 years who heroically raised Sonora and her five younger brothers after their mother died while giving birth to her brother Marshal.

She believed that fathers deserved to be honored just as much as mothers. The Mother’s Day sermon she heard inspired her to work for a special day to honor fathers. Thanks to Sonora Dodd who truly loved her dad, on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, Wash.

I also loved my father. The day after we buried dad, I sat in our living room grieving privately. The door opened and I expected dad to walk in as he often did. Instead mom walked in, saw me grieving, and whispered these encouraging words, “Your dad was proud of you.” This revelation sent tears of joy from my heart to my eyes!

Father’s family involvement

Someone wrote that our society teaches us the importance of mothers, but it could improve in teaching us the importance of fathers. A second person wrote anonymously, “The greatest gift I ever had, came from God; I call him Dad!” A third person wrote, “Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.”

A good father is important to boys as a male role model. As first and second graders, we boys admired our dad. We bragged that we had the best dad in the world.

The absence of a positive male role model in a child’s life leaves a void. In an article available on the internet entitled “Fathers,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, Ala., wrote that children raised without fathers are more likely to be school drop-outs, prisoners, use drugs, own weapons, assault teachers, get pregnant as teens, suffer depression, or commit suicide. He also wrote that an involved father greatly increases a child’s involvement in the Church.

A woman was embarrassed because her children caused the family to be chronically late for church. The family tiptoed sheepishly up front where everyone could see them. Nothing she did or said helped. Then her husband gave their children an ultimatum, “Be on time or you’re grounded forever.” They weren’t late again. She was proud of her husband.

Fathers show stability

Many wonderful mothers are remarkably effective in raising children without a father due to death, a collapsed marriage, or abandonment, but it’s harder. Also this cannot reverse the statistics that support the father’s importance. A columnist observed: “Kids function better with two good parents, just as they function better with two good eyes and legs.”

Basketball star Rebecca Lobo said that she admired her dad for being a pillar of strength when her mother battled breast cancer.

His committed love made her realize that the best gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother. Daughters and sons see what their dads believe about women by how they value and respect them or by how they fail to do so. A dad’s involvement in his daughter’s life is crucial in the development of a young lady’s self-esteem.

My three sisters loved our dad. Donna, my little sister, would wait patiently for him to walk home from work. When she saw him, she ran out to meet him, shouting “Daddy, Daddy” and jumped into his arms. This chased his tiredness and made him feel special.

There is an anonymous saying that a truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. Though poor, Dad was a millionaire!

St. Joseph, patron of fathers

With heavenly wisdom, God the Father knew that in his human nature, Jesus needed to be raised with a mother and father so that he could grow in wisdom, age, and favor before God and humanity. St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers.

Like St. Joseph, Dad was a good carpenter. He was a gentle, kind, masculine, loving father. He was an honest and loyal worker who spent quality time with us his children. He never missed Sunday Mass. He joined us in praying the family Rosary. He shared his love through a unique sense of humor until the day he died.

When Dad died, he left an empty space in my heart that I partially fill with memories of the way we were.

Though he still lives in my heart, I believe that he is with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoying Heaven with Mary, the angels, saints, mom, and other loved ones.

In this Year of Faith, it is especially important to remember a father’s importance in raising children who are the hope of the future. Dads, we appreciate you. Happy Father’s Day!

May God bless all fathers. May they love and respect their children’s mother and mirror Christ’s love to their sons and daughters.

By our words and example, may we, his children be, as proud of our Dad as he is of us. Amen.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.