This #7QT post is for all the fathers out there. I am using the term “fathers” very broadly. Fathers are those men in our lives who raised us, taught us the faith, and taught us how to live the faith. They can be biological fathers, adopted fathers, uncles, cousins, Godfathers, priests and religious men, and many others. All these fathers need role models and who better to turn to than some of our Catholic saints. As we approach Father’s Day (June 15, ladies, don’t forget!), I thought this was a good time to highlight a few saints who are good role models for dads and other spiritual leaders. Special thanks to our “Perspective from the Head” writers Devin and Allen as well as my husband for their suggestions.
The ultimate role model for dads has to be St. Joseph. He served as the earthly father of God’s own son, Jesus. What an amazing responsibility! Although we hear nothing about St. Joseph in the Bible after the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, we can ascertain that Jesus grew into the man he became thanks in part to St. Joseph. No words of his are recorded in Scripture, yet his actions show a man of great faith. Joseph is an example to all fathers of a strong yet gentle man who cared for his family, honored and respected his wife, and was a man with extraordinary faith.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
Not all of our “Role Model Saints for Dads” have to be fathers with children. There is a lot to learn from even young men who embraced life in all its fullness and also had a strong spiritual life. Although Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was only 24 when he died, his life was an example of holiness, spiritual leadership, and living life fully. He loved the mountains, hiking, singing, poetry, the poor, and above all Christ. He gave money to the poor whenever he could, was a member of Catholic Action and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and he worked with the poor in the slums eventually contracting polio, which caused his young death. This is a man who fathers can look to as one who fully embraced life while also having an intense prayer life. He was no “gloomy faced saint.”
St. Louis IX, King of France
Louis IX was a pious man who ruled France in the 13th century. His father died when he was twelve. His mother served as regent until he reached the age of 21. He married at 19 and he and his wife had eleven children. In his long list of patronages, he is listed as being the patron of parenthood and of parents of large families. His love for Christ and his children is exemplified by this excerpt of a letter written to one of his sons:
“My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation … If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank him humbly and see that you become no worse for it, either though vain pride or anything else, because you ought not to oppose God or offend him in the matter of his gifts. Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth. Be devout and obedient to our mother the Church of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff as your spiritual father.”
Blessed Louis Martin
Blessed Louis Martin was beatified along with his wife Blessed Marie-Azelie Guérin Martin. He also was the father of nine children, five of whom survived to adulthood, all girls, and all became nuns, the most well-known of whom was St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The life of Bl. Louis was one of hard work and dedication to both his family and to God. By all accounts, he had a contemplative soul and was a deeply spiritual man. He is a great example of a loving and devoted father as well as a committed Catholic who served as an example of a holy life to the children God put into his care.
St. John Bosco
John Bosco devoted his life to ministering to poor and neglected boys. He gained their trust and then taught them the faith and took them to Mass. Eventually he founded the “Oratory” in 1842 originally numbering about 20 boys. By 1846, about 400 boys were a part of the community. Over time, St. John Bosco taught classes and found a place for the Oratory to open a permanent home, which eventually became the Salesian Society. To this day, the Salesians teach boys from the beginning of their education all the way through to seminary, for those who wish to study for the priesthood. They also teach night classes for adults, Sunday school, and much, much more. St. John Bosco is the patron saint of boys, school children, and young people. For fathers, St. John Bosco is an example of perseverance and dedication in teaching the Catholic faith and caring for young boys and men.
Blessed Luigi Quattrocchi
Blessed Luigi Quattrocchi and his wife Blessed Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, were the first couple to be beatified together. They are an example of spousal love, of devotion to the family, and of community service. Together they had four children, two became priests and one a nun. They were also organizers, founding three different organizations in Italy, one for scouts, one for lay Catholics, and another that organized and accompanied the infirm on pilgrimages to Lourdes. In his homily for the Beatification, Pope John Paul II said,
“Drawing on the word of God and the witness of the saints, the blessed couple lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the centre of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the Rosary, and consultation with wise spiritual directors. In this way they could accompany their children in vocational discernment, training them to appreciate everything ‘from the roof up’, as they often, charmingly, liked to say.”
St. Thomas More
St. Thomas More, whose life is dramatized in the movie A Man for all Seasons, was a staunch supporter of the Catholic Church. Refusing to swear allegiance to King Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England, he was eventually imprisoned and then martyred for the faith. He remained completely dedicated to the Holy Roman Church to the very end. A father of four, he was an example of standing up for the truth.
Who else would you add to this list and why?
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