Pastor’s Weekly Message
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church
Saint Joan of Arc is filled with blessings of many different kinds. All of these events testify to the vitality, diversity, deep faith and robust community that is our parish family of faith.
Baby clothes and other baby care items will be the focus on Respect Sunday Weekend when we have our Annual Baby Shower to benefit Birthline/Lifeline pro-life ministry of Catholic Charities. We know what wonderful and compassionate care is provided through this ministry to young pregnant women and their babies. Please plan on bringing diapers, formula, clothes etc for babies to any of the Masses on October 2 and 3. They will be placed on the main altar steps as a symbol of our love and concern for the precious gift of life.
On Monday, October 4, at 6:00pm, behind our Church, we have the annual Blessing of our Parish Family Pets. This is a most joyful celebration of our many furry, feathered, slinky and aquatic family members. It is a great way to remember St. Francis of Assisi and his love for all living creatures. We give thanks to God for all of the joy that they bring into our lives and ask the Lord to bless them with health and longevity. I often have to ask myself “Who is the pet of whom” especially if pet and owner have come to resemble each other, so we always end up blessing families and pets together. This year, for safety reasons, we will be blessing the pets in a “drive-through” format.
Believe it or not, our Annual Gala Auction will be here sooner than we think, Friday evening, December 10, at The Polo Club in Boca Raton. This year the Gala/Auction “Christmas Angels” will have its usual wonderful features like fine dining, live dancing and the opportunity to meet with your parish and school friends. We really need your support for this event by buying tickets, helping to secure gifts for the Silent and Live Auctions, purchasing advertisements for your businesses, and sponsoring the many fun events of the evening. Our Special Projects team will be very grateful for all the help that we can give them. Please visit our Christmas Angels website:
Your presence for a great, fun evening will ensure that this event – our only major fundraiser for church and school – will be a success. May God bless and assist the success of all of these parish family events and activities as we grow in faith together.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
The Gift and Responsibility of Forming Our Children in The Faith
What an incredible gift and blessing our children are to us as the Saint Joan of Arc parish family. I am filled with joy when I welcome them before and after Mass and see the love that they receive from their parents and give back in return. It is great to hear a baby singing along at Mass and adding his/her own special harmony. It is also very uplifting to visit our school and our religious education classes when they were in-person, and observe the faith being passed on with such commitment and dedication.
Because our children are our most precious of gifts, it is also true that the spiritual dimension of their young lives needs to be attended to with great care. As parents and as religious educators, it is critical that we explain in understandable ways the truths of our faith. It is also important that we pass on in our homes the devotions to Mary, the Saints and other culturally specific spiritual practices, for example, the Colombian and Filipino practices of family novenas. If from our earliest days, we are surrounded by family prayer and devotional practices, as we mature, they grow with us and become even more significant. The ancient practice of praying at the beginning and at the end of each day, teaches our children that their lives and destinies are God’s gifts to them and that God accompanies them throughout the entirety of their lives. Each moment of their lives whether awake or asleep is watched over by their loving Father. Another natural opportunity to pass on our faith is the family habit of praying before and after meals. I realize that a meal with all family members present is a miracle today but, as often as possible, God should be thanked for the gift of life and nourishment. Those responsible for the cooking should also be mentioned with gratefulness. Celebrating birthdays is also a great way of recognizing the blessing that each child is to your family. It is a time for praising and recognizing each child’s unique characteristics as the real purpose of birthday parties and gifts. The “presence” that each child is to the family is the real birthday “present”.
Our school and religious education programs have now began. It is an appropriate time for mothers and fathers to prayerfully consider how you will pass on your faith this year. What spiritual practices will be celebrated in your home? When will the Bible be read? How will you teach the Gospel values of unconditional love, forgiveness, generosity, truthfulness, gentleness, mutual respect, rights and responsibilities? It goes without saying that the teaching needs to be done with words and living example. Whatever successes are achieved in passing on of our faith in schools and classrooms, nothing is as important as the faith formation that occurs in the “domestic churches” of our parish families.
I want to assure all parents of our prayers and support as you live out your vocation of Christian parenting during this upcoming year. Greeting you and your children at our church doors each Sunday is the high point of my week. As Jesus said “Let the little children come onto me, for to just such as these belongs the Kingdom of Heaven” Please let Jesus welcome them, nurture them and bless them each Sunday.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Our Lady of Charity
This Sunday, September 12 our St. Joan of Arc Hispanic Community will celebrate the Procession and Mass to honor Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s Patron Saint, and an important symbol in the Roman Catholic Church.
Fr. Robinson Aza, myself and leaders of the Hispanic Ministry will lead the Procession that will begin at 6:00pm around our campus. The Mass in Spanish will follow at 6:30pm.
The story of Our lady of Charity or Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre stretches back to the early 1600s. Around that time, two Indigenous Cubans and a ten-year-old African slave went to collect salt in the Bay of Nipe. While at sea, a violent storm overtook their small boat. Stuck under a downpour with waves crashing aboard, the group prayed to an image of the Virgin Mary carried by the young slave.
At that moment, the skies opened, the storm cleared, and the group spotted a single, white bird floating on distant waves. But as they drew closer, they discovered the bird was a statue fixed to a board that read, “Yo Soy la Virgen de la Caridad” or “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Believing it was a literal sign of Mary’s protection the group rushed it back to their village, where a local official ordered a small chapel built in the village of Barajagua. But soon after, the statue disappeared from the chapel. Distraught, locals formed a search party that night – only to discover the statue back in its original location the following morning. This happened three more times before the villagers decided to move the image to the nearby town of El Cobre.
But once again, the statue disappeared. It was soon discovered by a young girl in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountains. On that hill, locals erected a church now known as the National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity. Two hundred years later in 1801, the king of Spain, Charles IV, freed Cuban slaves from the El Cobre copper mines – increasing Cuban belief in the power of the statue. And in 1916, Pope Benedict XV declared Our Lady of Charity the patroness of Cuba. Numerous popes awarded special status to the image in the decades since.
We hope many of you can join us to pray for hope and salvation in the face of misfortune for many in Cuba and people world-wide, in this month as we celebrate the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Blessings to all.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
LABOR DAY – More than just a free Monday
On September 5, 1882, in New York City, the first Labor Day Holiday was celebrated as a “Workingmen’s Holiday”
to honor those “Who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold”. The holiday caught on
and by 1887 was celebrated in many states. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday
in September of each year a legal holiday throughout the country. Ever since, Labor Day has been celebrated with
speeches, parades and recreational activities. We honor all among us who by virtue of their labor make the world a
better place and contribute to business, industry, education, agriculture and culture and many other areas of life.
From a spiritual perspective, we are invited by Labor Day to think beyond human labor as a curse for Adam and Eve
and their descendants (the Book of Genesis description of life outside the Garden of Eden) and, rather, see human
labor and creativity as an opportunity to imitate the creativity of God who made all things from nothing out of love.
Labor can be effort that ennobles us and helps us grow in determination perseverance, imagination and fulfillment.
Work can, unfortunately, also be a de-humanizing and enslaving enterprise when fair wages, enlightened management
and integrity are absent. Our Catholic Social Justice teachings provide helpful guidance in understanding human
work and labor as truly human activity that needs to be respected and safeguarded by justice and fairness. Worker
exploitation, inattention to worker safety, human trafficking and unfair wages cannot be tolerated in a just and free
society like our own.
So in addition to enjoying (for those who are not working that day) a free Monday, Labor Day is a perfect time to
attend our 9:00am Mass and thank God for creating us with a mind, imagination and a desire to work. It is also a
very appropriate day to pray for all of those women and men in our country who are un-employed and struggling
to make ends meet. At this time of mourning in our country, we especially pray for our Marines and soldiers who
fought and labored through to the end, for their loved ones, and for all military members who continue to serve
courageously and honorably for our country all over the world. Finally, I would like to thank all those who “labor
out of love” in the different ministry leadership and ministry volunteerism here at Saint Joan of Arc. Their ministry
involvement and mercy in action enriches the lives of so many and gives great glory to God.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
In response to the many world’s natural disasters, Pope Francis has recently made a donation of 200,000 euros to help with the post-earthquake emergency efforts in Haiti. In addition, along with Haiti, Pope Francis has helped two other countries, Bangladesh and Vietnam after a cyclone and an outbreak of the Covid virus. These actions by the Holy Father are an encouragement to those affected and also a request to all of us, to be generous in our response to these world disasters.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Please read the following article as seen in the Vatican News:
Collections to support the relief efforts in Haiti can be made to Catholic Relief Services. The direct link to donate can be found here: https://support.crs.org/donate/haiti-earthquake?ms=agicrs2021heq00gen00&_ga=2.89509266.804349713.1629148578-68269726.1629148578
Jesus’ Invitation to a Servant Ministry
One of Our Lord’s most challenging invitations is to serve others as He teaches us. This is best illustrated by the
Parable of the Good Samaritan. This is the story of a man robbed and left half-dead. Passers by, one after the
other, saw him and did nothing. It was only a despised Samaritan who went out of his way to help, paid for the
man’s care and saved his life. When Jesus told the story, He asked the question. “Who was the neighbor of the
man ?” The disciple said “The one who treated him with mercy” Jesus then said to him “Go and do likewise”
This compassion and mercy is at the heart of ministries of service and giving in a parish and especially here at
Saint Joan of Arc. As you all know, recently Haiti has been struck by a massive earthquake, killing nearly 1,300
people, with death toll numbers increasing and extensive material damage. As a community of love and faith, we
the Saint Joan of Arc parish community can show our solidarity and love for our neighbors. Our gift is critical for the
people of Haiti.
I encourage you to join us in prayers for the earthquake victims, and to contribute financially to the aid that Catholic
Relief Services (CRS) is providing throughout Haiti at this time. To make your donation please visit CRS website:
Now is really a good time to search our hearts and help our neighbors. Remember the words of the Letter of James
“Faith without works is dead faith”.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Faith and the Pandemic
As I have been reflecting on how to survive this pandemic that plagues us all, the following thought came to mind.
I know that I often take our beautiful climate for granted. The sun is almost always shining and we get a nice hour-long shower everyday to cool everything off. Unfortunately this state of affairs doesn’t characterize our health. The corona virus has attacked us too and quite successfully. It has driven us to have unexpected vaccinations and to get accustomed to looking like bandits behind our masks. The complacency and orderliness of our lives has been rudely interrupted.
Tragically the corona virus has also taken many lives prematurely.Hospital wings are filled with sick people some of whom will not survive.How much we have learned from this virus about the precious value of human lives!It is our faith, finally, that helps us keep going.How much we need to appreciate and care for one another!We know how much God loves us, especially those who are suffering.We also know that it is supernatural help that is always here in prayer, sacraments, church worship and church solidarity.We are never alone.
Although this pandemic may be with us longer and perhaps even become more threatening, our faith will never cease to support us. Our relationship with the Lord Jesus brings to mind His terrible suffering and His courage and His final triumph.May this vision of the crucified and risen Christinspire us in our plight today. May we be stronger in solidarity and community because of the suffering we have endured.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Summer Fun is Over; BACK TO CLASSROOM FUN BEGINS!
This coming week we will begin classes again for our school and religious education. Hooray! We will have over 600 children involved in these programs and they are a core commitment for us. Our parish is one big family made up of many families. Our educational and faith formation programs assist the families of the parish in your responsibilities as Catholic parents. We enthusiastically support our families in this most important ministry. I am very joyful to announce that we have an enthusiastic faculty, a very competent and organized School Principal, an experienced Director of Religious Education, lots of new activities, new instructional programs and a stable enrollment.
We know from research on the outcomes of church based ministries for children that our financial and personal resources dedicated to this cause will bear much fruit. Our children will gain a clear understanding of “where they come from ?, why they are here?, what they are to accomplish in this life? and what the ultimate goal of life really is?”. They will be secure in their identity as beloved children of God with an eternal destiny. They will be taught their Catholic faith in all of its richness and spiritual blessings.
In our grade school, children benefit from a vibrant and state of the art approach to education: intellectually, socially, physically, artistically and physically. We are all about the holistic education of our children within a safe and stimulating learning environment. We are very proud of the fact that faith formation is integrated into all aspects of the learning process. Our students attend a weekly Mass to keep them closely united to Jesus The Good Shepherd.
So vacation time comes to an end but a school year of adventure and accomplishments begins!
May God bless all of the children and the families of our diverse and ever growing parish family.
May Saint Joan of Arc always look over and protect us. Amen.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (feast dayJuly 31st)
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a typical Basque soldier until he was seriously injured in battle and had a long period of recovery. During that time he experienced a religious conversion and became fascinated by the heroism of the saints. He then went on to study at the University of Paris and gathered around him a group of devout men who became the beginnings of the “Society of Jesus” the Jesuits.
Saint Ignatius is most famous for writing the Spiritual Exercises, a collection of meditations on the life of Jesus that were drawn from Ignatius’ own spiritual experience. Working through these meditations is a wonderful way of gaining focus, commitment and a decision to follow Jesus and “fight under His standard”. The Exercises are undergone in a retreat house, with careful spiritual direction. They are experienced within the context of a thirty five day silent retreat (what do you expect from a seasoned saint soldier?). Throughout the years, the Jesuits have made major contributions as missionaries, scholars, educators and parish priests. Many of our finest institutions of learning are directed and staffed by Jesuits including my Alma Mater, Fordham University.
One other thing to know about the Jesuit founder is that he was a different kind of saint. As the noted Jesuit historian Fr. John W. O’Malley, S.J. has observed, “Ignatius redefined the traditional basis of saintliness,” which usually involved a degree of unworldliness. In contrast, O’Malley refers to Ignatius as a “worldly saint.” He made sure his men were spending most of their time not in pulpits and confessionals, but in relatively secular spaces such as classrooms — teaching less directly about the Bible and Church doctrine than about literature and the ancient classics. He sent letters to his missionaries asking that they write back not just about their ministries, but also about the local customs, the plants and wild life — “anything that seems extraordinary.” He was curious about all of God’s marvelous creation.
Most of all, Ignatius Loyola wanted his Jesuits and everyone to go out and “find God in all things.” He died in 1556 — on July 31st, his feast day in the Catholic Church.
Msgr. Michael McGraw
This Sunday, July 25, 2021, has been designated by Pope Francis, as the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly (Ord Time 17). It coincides with the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus, on July 26.
Occurring in the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family 2021-22 with the theme, ‘I am with you always’, the day draws attention to the vital role grandparents and the elderly play in our communities and in the mission of the Church.
We thank and honor all of our St. Joan of Arc Grandparents and our Elderly for passing-on their faith, love and heritage.
In the first chapters of their Gospels, the evangelists Matthew and Luke give us a family history of Jesus, tracing his ancestry to show that Jesus’ birth is the culmination of great promises. He is the long awaited Messiah whose life, death and Resurrection would bring new life and freedom.His Mother Mary and foster-Father Joseph are strong examples of trust in God and courage in the face of the unknown and unanticipated actions of God.
The remarkable character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. Her Grandparents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, named in Church Tradition, represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but yet remain in the background often obscure.
What about the grandparents of Saint Joan of Arc? Tradition teaches very little about them except to present them as models of faith and commitment.They provided Mary with a family of devotion and attentiveness to God’s will.Mary as a model for us of prayerful listening to God must have developed that attentiveness as a child in her home.So she was able to grow into the “handmaid of the Lord”, because of the example of her parents.So we honor all grandparents and the powerful examples of faith that they are for all of us. In so many instances, grandparents are the transmitters of our faith and its traditions.We are so grateful for them and the legacy they pass on to us.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
St. Kateri Tekakwitha – The Lily of the Mohawks –
A Model of Faith for Our Summer Spiritual Growth
During the summer is probably not the best time to write about making progress toward sainthood. It is, however, a good time to call attention to a recently canonized saint who was very important in my own growth in faith and in the lives of many Catholics raised in the Northeast of our country.
I call attention to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, because in grade school everyday we prayed for her canonization. Now all of our prayers have been answered. She represents for the striving Christian, a model of how to deal with persecution, misunderstanding, being ostracized from family and friends because of faith and devotion to God. Coincidentally, she is also a great inspiration during the times that we suffer from illness or life-threatening diseases, as it has been during the past year due to the pandemic. Holiness, as Kateri teaches us, is a heroism of faithful practice of the basics of our faith and with a special concern for the sick, aged and vulnerable. These virtues are ones that we can surely practice even during summer vacations.
Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and damaged her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. Kateri became converted as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it.
Kateri went to a new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified.She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.” Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada.
Kateri, was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980.During the time since she was officially canonized by the Church, hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York.Pilgrimages to these sites continue today. It is a prayerful and spiritually powerful site to visit since it also is a Shrine to all of the North American Martyrs. I’m actually considering visiting her Shrine again. St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. Her feast day is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Summer Vacation with God and Family
Warmer weather has arrived in South Florida and for those of us who feel safe, it is time to head out on vacations. We are all looking to get out of the routines of our regular schedules and relax a little. There is nothing quite as refreshing for human beings as a day without the need for scheduling and organizing everything, work, commuting, classes and homework.It is clearly just as healthy to break away from routines and predictability as it is to live within them. So, we pack up the car or get on the plane or boat and head out into the unknown and to destinations that we anticipate with great enthusiasm!
I have always found it comforting to know that however far away from home our vacation travels may take us; God is always traveling with us. During these times, we also must research the health safety of our destination. The beauty of God’s creation surrounds us and God’s loving concern is everywhere. We may even be able to pray together as a family “on the road”.
Because we are not sure of the spiritual terrain, new worship opportunities also present themselves and we can appreciate the unity but also the diversity that exists among Catholic churches throughout the country. Different homilists, different music and different church architecture can liven up summer worship and also make us more appreciative of our vibrant faith life back at Saint Joan of Arc.
Extended time together as family also gives us the chance to connect at a deeper level and to really enjoy each other’s company. In our family, the kids had a lot of travelling games we played in the car but I have to keep reminding myself that those days were (P.I. and P.C. pre internet and pre-computer) and probably sound pre-historic to the on-the-road family of today. There is, however, nothing quite like being trapped in a car, van, plane or train to create new opportunities for family sharing. It is hard to refrain from talking to others in the family when the alternative is silence or fights over the radio, stereo or video selections.
Another plus of the family vacation are new opportunities for compromises and shared planning that emerge as decisions have to be made about where to eat or what movie to see or, as in my vacation pasts, what Civil War battlefield to visit. It’s probably also a good idea to spend some time together alone as parents or kids so that serious over-exposure is limited.
Vacations are God given down time and to be enjoyed to the max. God enjoys them as much as we do, so let’s make sure God gets some good laughs this summer!
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Freedoms and Responsibilities
This weekend we celebrate the Fourth of July, our most important National
holiday. It is a time for family picnics, playing at the beach, for barbecues
and family get-togethers. It is, also, a time for Fireworks displays and
patriotic concerts and parades. We are all in a celebratory mood and American flags are flying everywhere.
The fun and good times are only a part of the picture, however. The Fourth of July is really about the serious and unique experiment that is the democracy we cherish and the pledge of allegiance to which we commit.At the heart of our democracy is the belief that we all enjoy inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.Also what is implied is a commitment to equality, mutual respect and equal rights under the law. The recent effects of the pandemic, have taught us that we have an ongoing challenge and need for a deeper sense of national unity.
Our American rights and freedoms are gifts from God to be cherished and protected. They carry with them the accompanying responsibilities of mutual respect and reverence for each person and his/her dignity. The Fourth of July is a celebration of independence not only from England but from every ideology or power that seeks to impose tyranny upon free women and men.Our Constitution and Bill of Rights seek to embody a way of governance that respects the wisdom of the “common Person” and of our ability to determine our own destiny and place in the world.
Together, as American citizens, we form a union that is strong and a social compact that is unique in the history of nations…”one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all”. When at times we have failed to live up to these challenging ideals, we have always been able to look to our core values for direction. This is powerfully true today with the issues of racism, discrimination and terroristic hate crimes that continue to plague us. Community by community we need to re-commit to building a unified social fabric that leaves no individual or group ostracized or persecuted because of race or religion. Our Christian faith impels us to actions both real and substantial and not vague hopes and wishful thinking. Conversion of heart is what is called for more than ever.
As we take note of the liberty and freedoms that we enjoy as United States citizens, we also need to pay attention to the responsibilities that we have. We need to create a culture of respect, tolerance and national solidarity. This involves honest dialogue and openness to compromise so that the “common good” might be achieved. Our Catholic faith gives us vision and grace in order to be active and contributing members of our country. Our Catholic faith is lived in loving community that is in so many ways the foundation of our National community. The unique contribution of each American from every cultural, racial and religious heritage is what has helped make us strong, creative and brave in the face of oppression and evil. Vigilance and attention to our responsibilities will enable us to keep our freedoms and allow all Americans to enjoy them.
May God Bless America and help us to live more fully and purposefully as the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
We are happy to announce that Fr. Adam Forno will be assisting us with pastoral care and liturgical responsibilities.
He retired from the Diocese of Albany, NY, and has recently been ministering in Fort Lauderdale. He also ministered
among the poor in Haiti and with pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Fr. Adam brings experience in Catholic school ministry, and believe it or not, with the Sisters of Mercy. Please welcome him warmly when you see him around campus.Welcome to our St. Joan of Arc parish family!
Thank You to parishioners for their prayers, service and financial support of our parish. As we close one fiscal year and begin a new one on July 1st, 2021, there are some financial realities that are important for us to understand.
In 2017 approximately 20% of our registered parishioners did not support our parish. More recently, approximately 40% are not financially supporting our parish. This is difficult to process, because our parish life continues to provide significant opportunities for worship, service, and pastoral care. In other words, we are slowly returning to normal, both in church and in school. We are anticipating the full re-opening of our campus by August 30th, 2021. Your active involvement, however, is critical to furthering this return to normal.
It is our belief that the recent significant reduction in financial support of your parish is related to the pandemic and all of its casualties, so we are optimistic that as we emerge from the pandemic, and are fully open, that things will improve dramatically.
Ministries are invited to contact Deacon Bill to make any reservations of campus facilities. This is the approach we have taken in the past and if has worked very well.
We are looking forward with much enthusiasm to our parishioners filling the pews and our campus once again!
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw
Father’s By The Grace of God
This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day and we call to mind the importance and the critical role of fathers. We all know the virtues that we associate with good fathering: patience, strength, humility, dependability and a love that is unconditional. It is clear that these virtues are needed more than ever in our day as we struggle with the challenges of parenting our children well. Both mother and father have a critical role to play and the complementarities of their roles are a marvelous gift of God’s providence.
The grace to be a good father is a special gift and tailored to the personality and gifts of each father. I find it difficult to relate to all of the Father’s Day T.V. and magazine advertisements that show fathers that look like movie stars with perfect grooming, clothes and other signs of worldly success. My own father was a little heavy, partly bald and shorter than average. He was, however, tall, strong and successful in what was important— teaching us that we were loved and teaching us how to love.
I am amazed by the diversity and the fellowship of our St. Joan of Arc dads, who before the pandemic used to meet here. Although all are between late-twenties and mid-forties, no two are really alike. Many are in business for themselves and are very entrepreneurial, go getters and high energy guys. An equal number work in different business settings and, I am sure, are responsible for a lot of the success of the companies they work for. Some are very stressed by their jobs and sometimes even worried about their job futures. Because as men, we often define ourselves by what we do, it is most important to remember that men are far more than what we do.It is who we arein integrity, virtues, dependability and love in action that really defines who we are. What I really enjoy in interacting with the dads is also the sense of camaraderie, support and their ability to have fun in the midst of many and serious responsibilities. They are all concerned with being the best possible husbands and fathers and are available to each other with good advice and active concern. However, there always seems to be room for recreation and social bonding in a neighborhood pub, golf outing or a fun time with the kids. Thankfully, we boys will always be boys!. I am looking forward to meeting again with our St. Joan of Arc dads, as we fully re-open our campus in the next couple months.
As a spiritual father or “Dad”, I cannot claim any biological children. I do, however, see the men of the Dad’s Club along with all the fathers of this parish as my partners in parenting this parish. My prayer for all fathers today is that we know deeply the love of Our Father and that we share that love with our own children and with all the children of the world.
May we all remember on Father’s Day that regardless of size, shape, or amount of hair, all dads deserve a big hug from the family and a sincere thanks for a self-sacrificing vocation, well lived. Also, a prayer is in order that each dad knows the profound joy of being a grace-filled Father.
Msgr. Michael D. McGraw