I lost my dad suddenly when I was in the seventh grade. My mom had to work extra hard to raise her four children without him. Thankfully she had help from my grandmother and others in our extended family. She also had a great faith that saw us through every storm.
There were many sunny days too, of course. I cherish all of the milestones I’ve been able to celebrate with my mom, thanks to her loving support and encouragement.When I graduated high school. When I graduated college. When I entered this priestly ministry. When I became president of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.
“But as blessed as I was to have been given such a strong, proud mother, Father’s Day sometimes makes me think about what I lost as a boy.”
But as blessed as I was to have been given such a strong, proud mother, Father’s Day sometimes makes me think about what I lost as a boy. I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to have seen my dad sitting right there alongside my mom on all of those special occasions. To have benefitted from the wisdom of his experience as I faced the choices and challenges of adolescence. How proud he would have been of me and my siblings. And, how wonderful it would be today to be able to throw my arm around his shoulders and simply say, “Thank you, Dad, for all that you’ve done for me.”
The key to a happy life, however, is not to ruminate about what we don’t have, but to be grateful to God for the many people He has brought into our lives, for however long. Equally important is that we extend that gratitude by offering our compassion to those who struggle. To be someone in someone else’s life—a person for whom another person is grateful. It’s nothing short of what our Father asks of us. His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
So many of our young people come from homes without a father—up to 86% in fact. Meanwhile, they’ve also had to cope with so much more than my family did. I struggle to imagine what would life would have been like for my mother and for us had circumstances in our lives been vastly different. Had we been surrounded by poverty and powerlessness. By broken streets and boarded up buildings. By crime and violence. By disillusionment and despair. We had others in our lives who helped us get through, who helped us succeed.
That’s what you are for the young people in Mercy Home’s care. You enrich our young people’s lives through your kindness and your compassion. You hold the key to what God wants them to become.
On this Father’s Day, I am grateful to you for saying yes to the Lord’s invitation to be that person in the life of another.
Around 94 percent of our kids come from single-parent households where, more often than not, fathers are not in the picture. Fortunately, at Mercy Home, there are many coworkers who serve as father figures for our kids.