Family is the most important rock we build our lives on and fathers, as mentors and role models, are critical to this foundation. The sad reality for Australia is that fewer and fewer fathers have the courage and confidence to accept this responsibility. This is a shame as fathers have an awesome calling given they have been gifted with the best thing that God can create – children. Despite this, what makes a father is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. Unfortunately, the foundations of our families are weaker because too many wives and children do not have this rock, this foundation, on which to build their lives. At the same time, like all of us, fathers are not infallible. They make mistakes and face difficult circumstances but continue to live and learn. What have I learned from some ATC fathers? I have learnt fathers are called to set high expectations of themselves in order to, through their words and actions, set an example for their children. I have seen fathers who, in spite of how ‘time poor’ they are, make time to simply ‘be’ with their children. I have learnt fathers challenge unhealthy stereotypes about women by how they treat their wife. I have learnt that fathers instill the virtues of compassion, forgiveness and justice in their children by how they choose to action their professional lives. I have learnt that fathers who in express their emotions, in the days of struggle (rain) and heartache (wind), reveal that they are strong, not by putting other people down, but by lifting them up. I have learnt that this is, above all, the greatest foundation fathers pass on – the gift of hope and self-belief.
This is the sturdy rock that our faith calls us to build our house on for when the winds come and the rains fall. During these times fathers are there to guide and protect their family through the darkest of storms into light of a better day. What kind of world are you leaving your children even if it’s difficult and the work seems too great?
Conor Finn, Dean of Formation