Happy Father’s Day! Or is it? I ask this question only because I hear so much about the drastic changes taking place in family structures today. No one is immune to these happenings. Yet, today is set aside to remember and emphasize the best meaning of the word “father”. Looking back and reflecting on my own father, I must admit mostly “father knew best”, especially when I didn’t agree. And disagree we did. Does that mean this was an idyllic, perfect relationship? No. But I owe a lot of who I am to him. He taught me self-discipline, the value of hard work, and a sense of responsibility. He held me accountable for what I did and for what I didn’t do. He was publicly loyal and protective, but privately, blunt and corrective. Not all my memories are fond, but I knew he loved me and that I was important to him, though he was awkward in expressing this. He told me as I was leaving to join the Servites that I wouldn’t last there and would be home in thirty days. That was 1956 and I wonder sometimes if I stayed to spite him. It might have motivated me in the early months of being away from home, but it would never have lasted this long. He wanted me to succeed and I knew this, though he died before I was ordained. I had a child-father relationship with him. I was never his buddy and never called him by his first name. Years later my mother remarried. Yes, I married my mother; that is, I witnessed her marriage to my stepfather. He was a very different man than my father. He was a widower with no children and became an instantaneous grandfather and loved it. He was no where as intense as my father, nor was he as talented. He was wonderful to my mother. My father was an emigrant from Ireland. My stepfather was the son of Polish immigrants that spoke limited English. He introduced us to new ideas about food and fun. He quickly captured the hearts of my family, like we always knew him. Wherever he was, there was laughter. I never called him “dad”, but always used his first name, George. We had a good relationship, a strong adult friendship. Both these men have given me much, yet they were fathers in very different ways at very different times in my life. I love them both and am grateful for what each has given me. I recognize how good each man was in his own way. I pray for them constantly. But remembering them makes me happy and it is in this sense that I say Happy Father’s Day.
Father Michael Doyle, O.S.M.