Father's Day reminds us of a father's importance Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 18, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Father's Day was founded by Mrs. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd.

When Sonora was 16, her mother died while giving birth to Sonora's youngest brother. With Sonora's help, her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, raised Sonora's five brothers.

Sonora admired the endless sacrifices her dad made so that his children could live better. As she listened to a Mother's Day sermon, she felt there should also be a day to honor fathers; consequently, she worked tirelessly to establish a Father's Day to honor her father and all fathers.

A father's role

Mothers have an important role in raising children, especially in sharing intimacy, care, and presence. But the father's role is important too.

Fathers provide a role model for each son. They influence how each daughter relates to other men. Someone said that good fathers are a son's first hero and a daughter's first love.

Continuing his emphasis on the family's importance, Pope Francis stated that children have a right to a father as well as a mother. He urges dads to stick by their children's side, teaching them, guiding them, and loving them. The absence of a positive male role model in a child's life leaves a void.

In my boyhood, Dad and I shared much quality time. Dad usually let me watch him work at the local auto body shop. He took me with him hunting, fishing, and watching local baseball games. I accompanied him when he visited people in the hospital. He taught me to love sports, nature, priests, Sisters, the Church, and the needy.

Occasionally Dad told me stories. His storytelling planted in me a love of storytelling, writing, and preaching, my first love. He taught me that it takes a little wind to make a kite or a good story fly. He even made up a song about me that he sang to me.

Greatest gifts from a father

Fathers and mothers teach us to pray, model values, and help to put the hope of Heaven in our heart.

One of the greatest gifts that a father can give to his children is to love their mother. When Dad retired, he found a part-time job picking up parts for the local garage. In mid-morning he often stopped at Ma's Café -- our home -- for coffee. It was a delight to see him spend quality time with Mom because he loved her.

A study on fathers showed that an involved father greatly increases his child's adult church attendance.

Dad never missed Sunday Mass and prayed the family Rosary. He respected priests and Sisters.

Dad's gentle kindness helped me to see God as a gentle loving Father.

Tips for being a good father

Pope Francis recently shared seven tips for being a good father:

1. A good father doesn't want children just like himself, but wise and free ones.

2. A good father possesses rigor and steadfastness, rather than complicity and protection.

3. A good father is present to the family, close to his wife and children.

4. A father who is present is not necessarily a controlling father.

5. A good father is a patient father.

6. A good father knows how to forgive and not humiliate, but without being weak or complacent.

7. The "Our Father" is brought to life in fatherhood that is forgiving of failure.

We celebrate Father's Day this year on June 21. I especially remember this date because in 1984, I visited Dad in Dubuque's Mercy Hospital on June 22, my birthday. As I left, Dad warned me that he was not long for this world. I kidded him that he would probably outlive me. I was wrong. He died unexpectedly the next morning.

During the funeral of a friend with whom I once jogged, the choir and people sang "How Great Thou Art!" I smiled because my friend's name was Art. My dad's name was also Art. His family smiled too.

He and my friend were God's work of art. Dad embodied many of the qualities that good fathers bring to a family. Pope Francis has shared and will continue to share these qualities. He agrees with Sonora Dodd who felt that responsible, caring dads are great. I know!


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