PHOENIX (CNA) — In a video message June 18, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix urged prayers for fathers ahead of Father’s Day, saying that fatherhood is the “mission of every man.”
“In the time of the current pandemic and social unrest, in a society confused by moral relativism and misinformation, the need is great for men with humility and courage to embrace their God-given mission of fatherhood — so critical to the future of the family and of society,” he said in the June 18 message.
Bishop Olmsted’s own father, who died only a few years ago, converted to Catholicism after falling in love with an Irish Catholic woman.
“Dad never had any regrets about making that decision, so I had the great blessing of growing up in a home where praying was as natural as grieving, where we experienced the mercy of God every two weeks as we went to Confession as a family and knelt down each night to pray evening prayers together.”
Having his mother and father there throughout his upbringing brought Bishop Olmsted and his siblings a sense of security, he said.
“Never did we doubt his love for mom and his love for each of us, even when we needed his fatherly correction, which happened quite a lot.”
Fathers are called to be a “safe harbor” for their children, Bishop Olmsted said, adding that a father’s love is manifested in his care and concern, as well as his correction and encouragement.
St. Joseph models these values for Catholics, though Bishop Olmsted pointed out that the Bible does not record any words that St. Joseph said.
“What mattered was that he was there, attentively present to Mary and Jesus,” Bishop Olmsted said.
St. Joseph protected Mary and Christ from King Herod and taught his foster son the family trade. “It’s no surprise that Jesus was happy to be called ‘the son of the carpenter,’” observed the bishop.
Every father is a “work in progress,” a man in need of God’s mercy, and thus we do well to pray for our fathers every day, Bishop Olmsted said.
Bishop Olmsted cited Pope Francis’ words from Amoris laetitia: “God sets the father in the family so that by the gifts of his masculinity he can be close to his wife and share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And to be close to his children as they grow — when they play and when they work, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they are talkative and when they are silent, when they are daring and when they are afraid, when they stray and when they get back on the right path. To be a father who is always present.”