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June 22, 2021

Society needs to heal the ‘father wound’

Andre des Vignes

By Kaelanne Jordan

As the nation joined the world in celebrating Father’s Day Sunday, June 20, Archbishop Jason Gordon proposed that fathers adopt St Joseph as their second father, a spiritual father to help them become the man God intended them to be.

“I know if you take him as father, he too will save your skin,” the Archbishop said during a webinar hosted by the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) and the Archdiocese’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR) on Facebook last Sunday. The event had as its theme: St Joseph, role model for fathers.

If God decided St Joseph was “good enough” to be father of His Son, “he good enough for me,” the Archbishop asserted. On the other hand, he observed that the paternity of St Joseph has been a “slow-release pill” through the Church. “The first couple hundred years, you didn’t hear that much about St Joseph. Then one or two started to reflect and their writings start to trigger….”

It wasn’t until the publication of Pope Leo XIII’s 1889 encyclical Quamquam Pluries, on devotion to St Joseph, it became “more and more obvious” that St Joseph doesn’t have a temporary place in salvation history, but a permanent one.

At the onset of his talk, the Archbishop spoke of significant challenges affecting fatherhood in the Caribbean context. He paid particular attention to the plantation system and the systematic dismantling of the family (See Archbishop’s column).

He described the array of challenges facing Caribbean civilisation such as corruption, addiction, pornography use, a decline in morality, as indicators of “father wounds”.

The father wound is not something that easily goes away. It’s something that must be healed through the process of time and intentionality, the Archbishop stressed. He commented on another challenge of fatherhood—fathers who were never fathered. Archbishop Gordon shared that his grandfather had three sons within a year, with three different women.

“The first was my father, born April 1929 …. And none of them really grew up with their father. But they chose to be brothers. And so, they invented fatherhood, by the seat of their pants because they had no model in front of them to go by…. And in making it up as they went along, it was difficult, they made big mistakes, but they did much better than the generations before them…,” the Archbishop disclosed.

Also adding to the discourse was Andre des Vignes. Married since 1980, des Vignes is a retired judge and a certified mediator who facilitates interactive sessions on ‘Healing the Father Wound’ for the Companions of the Transfigured Christ (CTC).

Citing Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter on St Joseph, Patris Corde, des Vignes shared his thoughts of St Joseph’s life as an example for fathers in this time.
He outlined that St Joseph was an obedient father (Matthew 1), a creatively courageous father (Mt 2) and a father in the shadows.

Explaining the latter, he said, “he acted as a father figure to Jesus, and he watched over Him and protected Him, never leaving Him to go His own way.”

Similarly, des Vignes shared advice for all fathers facing challenges of fatherhood. He urged fathers to develop and nourish at all times a relationship of trust in God; listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His divine will in all decisions.

“Be courageous in facing the challenges of fatherhood confident in the knowledge you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

Other speakers included Prof Gerry Brooks, Frs Matthew d’Hereaux and Curtis Poyer, Dr Peter Timothy, CCSJ member Joseph Timothy, and Rondell Feeles, founder of the Single Fathers Association.