So, what does it take to be a father?
Happy Father's Day to all who fulfill the role of being a dad! Whether a biological, adoptive, foster or father figure to a child, you are due a well-deserved round of applause for your hard work and dedication to your children.
I was blessed to have a phenomenal father who did everything possible to provide a better life for his family. He taught me the value of hard work, dedication and self-giving love for God, family and country -- values I have tried to pass on to my own children.
When my wife and I tried to start a family, I realized how many children grow up without someone to call dad. Through Catholic Social Services, we became both a foster and adoptive family, and over the past 30 years, we have been privileged to adopt six wonderful children and be foster parents to over 30 more.
Often children placed in foster care have never experienced the positive presence of a man in their lives and can be fearful of the "giant" now with them. Over time, with gentleness and compassion, they grow to learn what it means to call someone "Daddy." I've learned that what my children need most is to know that they are loved, that they are God's greatest gift to us!
So, what does it take to be a father? Consider the simple yet powerful words spoken by an angel to St. Joseph: "Do not be afraid." St. Joseph listened and trusted, and took Mary into his home. St. John Paul II called St. Joseph a model of manhood with the title "Guardian of the Redeemer" as the foster or adoptive father of Jesus.
Little is known of him: he was the protector of Jesus and Mary, he observed the Jewish faith traditions, he was a craftsman who provided for his family, and Jesus was obedient to him. St. Joseph is a role model for all fathers, calling us to be present to our children, and to encourage and guide them through the journey of life.
Being a dad is not easy; it's a tremendous responsibility that requires discipline and patience. Life moves so quickly and along the way personal tragedies can happen.
The real test of fatherhood is always being there for your children, standing by them in times of uncertainty. Good fathers pay attention to their children's needs and interests, support and encourage them, and serve as a good role model for them.
With all the challenges of being a good father, I can attest that the rewards are endless. Seeing your children take their first steps and remove the training wheels off the bike or watching them sing their hearts out in school concerts or play sports or learn to drive a car -- these are but a few of the experiences that bring laughter to your life and joy to your heart.
Time goes all too fast -- one minute you're holding a baby bottle and the next you're walking them down the aisle.
Like St. Joseph, all fathers are called to be guardians of the children entrusted to their care. Listen to those same words he heard -- "do not be afraid" -- and accept the vocation of fatherhood with great joy. Seek the intercession of St. Joseph today as you strive to fulfill the call to be a "good father" as he was.
Finally, this Father's Day, let's pause and say a heartfelt "thank you" to each of our fathers for a job well done.
We recognize our dads who have placed their families first. We honor their daily efforts in raising their children well and teaching them the valuable lessons of life. Father's Day is a celebration of the life they have given to us and for us.
- Paul Quinn is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Ordained in 2011, he serves at St. Francis de Sales Church in Lenni, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Karen reside in Media, Delaware County.
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