…..from the Pastor’s Desk:
Happy Fathers Day!
I wasn‘t always ‘Father Ron’. My birth certificate says ‘Ronal’ but I started out life as ‘Ronny‘. When I was 12 I decided that I wanted to drop that child’s moniker and be called ‘Ron‘ so I informed my family of my decision and didn‘t respond to ‘Ronny’ anymore. Within 5 days the change was complete. During High School I had various nicknames that are probably best left unmentioned. After High School in the military I was called by my rank. Teaching High School on the Reservation in the South-West in the late 70‘s I was called ‘Mr. Serban’. With the Franciscans I was ‘Brother Ron’. I liked that. I liked being a ‘brother’ to people. Years later when I was ordained a Transitional Deacon I became ‘Deacon Ron’. And then – finally…’Father Ron’. That one took the most adjustment because I had never been a biological father.
The word father brings up many different emotions and feelings for people. Hopefully for
most it is positive, but not everyone has had a good father. Some have never had a father at all.
So what does it mean to be a father? Let us look at one of the most famous fathers; Saint Joseph.
I love the image of Saint Joseph as portrayed in the movie ‘Jesus of Nazareth‘ by Franco Zeffirelli. Rent this or buy it if you can. He is joyful, gentle, and kind. He takes on the responsibility of Mary and her unborn child – at great personal risk. He provides for them and is present to their every need. As Jesus grows, he is shown teaching him and the other neighborhood boys the Carpentry trade. What impressed me most about the portrayal of this character is that he was always smiling. Smiling is a good thing. He showed a genuine love for people, all people, and in that he truly reflected Our Heavenly Father – even as he raised His Son.
I see these traits of St. Joseph in many men today- including those who are not biological fathers. It is evident in uncles, teachers, family friends, other relatives, and yes, even in some priests. I have had wonderful priests as mentors and father figures. When I hear the word ‘father‘ to address a priest I think of it as an action verb rather than as a proper noun. It‘s not a title, it‘s a description. It‘s what we do – not just what we are called. I have tried to live up to the examples I‘ve seen of ‘fatherhood ‘throughout my priestly life – and I have learned much from experience and observation.
—I learned that what a child really needs is your time. Even just a few minutes a day.
—I‘ve learned that a father teaches his children many things – but not by what he says to them as much as by what he does with them.
— I‘ve learned that we should not be threatened by our children, or envious of them or their accomplishments.
— I‘ve learned we should support and encourage our children – not criticize and tear them down.
— I‘ve learned that love definitely means having to say you are sorry when you‘ve hurt your children.
— I‘ve learned that ignoring your children is a far worse punishment than a spanking.
— I‘ve learned to be thankful to God for sharing their life with us.
Can all fathers match up to this all the time? I don‘t know. I know I can‘t – not all the
time. But that‘s Ok. Fatherhood, like Priesthood, is acquired by living and learning. Having a child or being ordained merely begins that process. It is a lifelong journey and seen as such – there can be great joy in the journey as you grow together with those to whom you have been entrusted.
So Happy Father’s day to all men who have raised or influenced the lives of children,
whether biological fathers or not. And finally, Happy Father’s day too to all the single parent women who have been/are mother and father to their children.
God Bless Us All