When my first child Christian was born, I made a promise to myself that I would be a better father to him than my father was to me.
This is not to say that I do not have good memories of my father whom I loved despite the challenges he had in his own life.
My daughter Alyssa was born three years after Christian, and again I made the same promise to be a better father to her than my own father was to me.
I remember the joy I felt at both of their births which at the time I could not describe, but a joy that filled my heart with love for them and my wife Rose.
As father, I had to be provider, coach, mentor, and support in their times of need, whether it was dealing with some issue at school or some question they had about the activity they were involved in at the time.
I didn’t have all the answers and quickly found out that being a father is not an easy job, and sometimes I made mistakes along the way. It made me realise how inadequate we can be at times, if we don’t have the faith in and belief of our own Father in Heaven who provides what we need to guide us in our role as fathers.
Some of the moments of joy I remember is when Christian became an altar server at my parish of St Peter’s in Carenage, and when Alyssa joined the church choir.
Fr Robert Llanos (now a bishop) was the parish priest at the time, and on Christian’s first day as a server, quickly looked at me with a big smile on his face and a thumb’s up when he reached onto the sanctuary. I felt proud and overjoyed but had to tell him after Mass that the whole church was watching him. Still a moment of joy.
I remember also that Alyssa once sang a solo for a hymn at Mass (‘Immaculate Mary’), another moment of joy.
Moments of sadness mixed with joy followed when both migrated to live abroad, Christian to the United States and Alyssa to Canada. I also experienced moments of joy at their graduations from university, both from Georgetown in Washington DC, and on the day that each of them got married to start families of their own. Now I can share in my son’s joy of being a father himself, with the birth of their first child in December 2020.
Have I succeeded in being a better father than my own father? Not always, and again moments of pain and sadness when I reflect on the times that I could have been better in my form of discipline, or how I spoke to them, even when I believed it was in their best interest.
We are not blessed with a know-it-all facility that we can switch on as fathers, but we learn as we go.
My prayer for fathers on this Father’s Day is that as fathers, we remain open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, trust in God to lead us to be better fathers, learn to say sorry when we are wrong, and continue to build and grow in relationship with our children. It is a relationship which never ends and is a continuous effort in love.
Jose is married to Rose nee Aquing for close to 38 years, and they have two children, Christian (35) and Alyssa (32). They are members of the St Peter’s parish community in Carenage, where Jose is the Parish Administration Coordinator and Rose is also involved in parish ministry. Jose is currently in formation to become a permanent deacon in the Archdiocesan Diaconate Programme.