By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
“Every family needs a father – a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm guidance and love…a father should be close to his wife, to share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And … be close to his children as they grow.”
On Wednesday, June 16, I celebrated my birthday. Birthdays always provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our lives.
I thank God that both my parents were in my life until adulthood and beyond. Now that they have left this earth, I cherish the many positive memories I have of them. I am fortunate that I had my father in my life. On this Father’s Day, let’s thank God for the many good fathers who undertake their duties and love their families.
However, I agree with former US President Barack Obama, whose words apply to us here in T&T also. Years ago, he said: “…if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that too many fathers also are missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities…And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”
It is important for Church and society to examine the state of affairs in T&T: why many of our men are not stepping up to the plate to meet their responsibilities? Fathers were once boys.
I remember talking to a group of four young men who were working with a contractor to rewire my house. Before we throw stones at our men, we need to walk in their shoes. Not one of them grew up in a home in which his father was part of his life.
While one’s life is not necessarily a ‘write off’, if one grows up in a ‘father-absent’ home, as the National Fatherhood Initiative, USA states: “Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is affected in many ways.”
During this year of St Joseph, a model father; patron saint of the universal Church, fathers, families and more, let us pray to him as a powerful intercessor in Heaven, to help fathers discover/rediscover fatherhood and to help men fulfil their vocation at home.
We know what some of the obstacles are in T&T. Too many of our families live on the margins; too many are poor and are socially excluded. We need, for example, more parenting programmes, more mentors and role models, more social structures that will allow working fathers to have paternity leave.
As the Body of Christ in this world, we cannot sit on the sidelines and ignore the many social ills that impact adversely on fatherhood/family life or look to the government to find solutions.
St Joseph, role model
Let us renew our commitment to play our part to promote and protect family life, and work with those in authority to create conditions within our communities that will allow the family to flourish.
Please join CCSJ/AMMR from 5 to 6.30 p.m. this Sunday on our Facebook page for our live stream webinar entitled St Joseph, role model for fathers.
Archbishop Jason Gordon and eight other speakers will share their thoughts on the theme. See the advertisement on page13 of this issue.
The US Bishops are right: “Fatherhood has its origins in God, who chose to reveal Himself to us as Our Father, sending His only Son for the sake of our salvation. Fathers therefore have a special role ‘in revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God’ (Familiaris Consortio 25).
“Father’s Day is an appropriate time to recall the essential role of fathers in the life of the family and in building a culture of life. It is also an opportunity to highlight spiritual fatherhood, which all men are called to embrace.
“As a Church community, we need to encourage and support men to follow the example of St Joseph and embrace their various roles as father. Even if a man is not a parent, he is still called to spiritual fatherhood—a fatherhood that fosters others’ relationship with God, protecting them from evil and providing an example of Christ’s love.
“St Joseph, himself, was unexpectedly called to both practical and spiritual fatherhood, and amid very difficult circumstances. But despite all obstacles, Joseph was faithful. He welcomed life, offering care and protection to Mary and Jesus.”
Let us invest in fathers. They matter. Happy Father’s Day!
If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. (24)
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee