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10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest’s Father’s Day ROCK!

10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie and Father Jonathan go all the way back! When Father Jonathan left St. William, she, at age 2 – along with her siblings – worked on their interviews for Father J. This made such an impression on him that he taped this up on the wall of his office at his next parish assignment!

You’ve probably got Father’s Day all cinched up right now (hey, I’m just tryna be positive 😉 ), but what about your parish priest? You know, the fella on the altar who consecrates the bread and wine into Jesus – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. What about that guy? He’s your spiritual father! Today, we’re going to cover some quick and easy ways to help your priest feel loved on Father’s Day. Let’s get started! Don’t forget to take a listen (at the bottom of this post) to the Father’s Day homily by Father Michael Sullivan, given on Father’s Day 2016 at my home parish, St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas. 

  1. Find him before or after Mass and tell him Happy Father’s Day! 
  2. Mail or hand deliver an actual Father’s Day card to your parish priest/s. Be sure to let them know you are praying for him and his work in building up the Kingdom.
  3. Have the kiddos draw him some lovely artwork for his office, or you can do a fun interview with the kids to give him. Josie, who is almost eight now, still gets a big kick out of this interview she did for Father Jonathan when she was two!
  4. Does he love Sonic, McDonald’s, or some other fast food place? Pick up a gift card (any amount will do!) and toss it in the Father’s Day card!
10 Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie and Drew with Father Jonathan on May 20, 2018.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Michael Sullivan with Joshua and Drew on the last day of Conquest. This annual boys camp is always the week following Father’s Day. The two oldest boys have both attended for going on nine years!
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Josie along with big brother (and seasoned altar boy of eight years) bring up gifts to Father Dean. She specifically asked for a Sunday to celebrate her First Holy Communion when Father Dean could celebrate Mass.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
She was so excited to share her special day with Father Dean.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche and Joshua had a special bond in the time he was at St. William. Here we said goodbye as he moved on to his next priestly assignment.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche put on a soccer camp for kiddos and Drew participated.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche and my husband played soccer (along with several St. William staff) for about a year. On Josie’s birthday, we found Father Uche and asked him to bless this sweet girl.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
On Scout Sunday, Paige brought up gifts to Father Uche at Mass. Afterward, we grabbed a snap of the two of them.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Uche gives Josie a ‘hi five’ at Vacation Bible School and then made a beeline to ask me why her name tag said “Mary,” lol. #MaryJosephine
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Drew and Father Michael Sullivan at the end of Conquest Boys Camp in 2015.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Father Jonathan came over for dinner and Josie always makes sure we take a picture of the two of them, lol. #BUDDIES
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Even when Father Uche is at another parish and he says “I need to speak to your daughter, bring her to Jesus Is Lord” in another city, you know what you do? You throw her in the car and take her to see Father Uche, lol.
Great Ways to Make Your Priest's Father's Day ROCK!
Drew asked Father Dean to celebrate his First Holy Communion in 2016.


What else can you do to help your priest know he is loved and appreciated, especially in big parishes?

  1. Invite him over for dinner! Seriously, it doesn’t have to be fancy – pizza will do. Need some inspiration? Check out our Pinterest Food.Meals board!
  2. Ask him if he will celebrate sacraments for your kiddos! In our case, our kids actually request our pastor because there is a level of comfort in that relationship. We have created a priestly culture and our kids know how church works – get there early so the boys can serve, say prayers, and then ask if we can see Father Dean. Every. Sunday. He greets everyone between Masses, so we head to the narthex and join him to say hello, greet folks, and let the littles run around outside to burn off some energy. I may or may not utilize that time to see how his week has gone and if he can pray a little extra over the one kid who acts like he’s never stepped foot in a church before – uh hem. 
  3. Offer to make a meal – fresh or for the freezer. Call ahead of time and find out likes/dislikes and what he prefers. Some priests love to cook and others can’t even look at a recipe card without sweating. 😉 
  4. Send an email (or text if you’re at that comfort level) and fill them in with the latest with your family. Often times, priests only hear about folks problems, which is part of the job, but sharing in some of the highlights of your family life can be a huge blessing. 
  5. In times of distress, ask for their prayers. Additionally, let them know you are offering up your suffering for their tireless work. Priests have a target on their back and Satan does not take a day off. Knowing you are praying for them and offering up struggles for them can go a long way. They definitely need all the prayers we can send their way! When I had an emergency appendectomy, both Father Dean and Father Uche came to see me at the hospital to pray over me and to pray Vespers together. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and it was kind of comical, but I was so glad to have them there with me. Father Dean and his dry, German sense of humor and Father Uche and his Oxford English accent despite being from Nigeria. What made it all the better was listening to the two of them bicker like true brother priests. Another time, right after we experienced our first (of three) miscarriages, our parish priests reached out to me and my family in one of the most pastoral ways. They made themselves available in ways that were unique to their personalities. One priest researched burial logistics and another asked to talk to me because he knew I was suffering. This man – this diocesan priest whose schedule is filled from first light of day until the stars come out and here he was asking if he could call me and talk to me.  These men have and still are treasures to our family.
  6. Has your priest been reassigned? This is the time of year when the diocesan reassignments have been announced. Here’s one great way to help your priest feel the love of the parishioners and it takes very little effort, you’ll be glad to know!

What would you add to this list? Share in the comments!

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Father’s Day Liturgy: Cheerios, Tears, and Prayer

Mass with a five year old and a two year old. It’s a beautiful, chaotic, maddening, complicated adventure, isn’t it? The longest hour of the week for sure. How can 60 minutes seem so excruciatingly slow one morning, but the next day, let’s say when I am rushing to get one to school and the other to daycare it whizzes by?

Prior to March 24, 2015, I was never so proud as when we went to church as a family of four. In my mind there was nothing more beautiful than a family worshiping and growing in faith together. Sure it was a challenge with little ones, but always a time that I treasured, honored, and looked forward to each week.  

Fast forward a year and three months, and I am absolutely anxiety ridden about taking my children to mass. It’s ridiculous to think that way, I know. Church is a safe haven, but as I sit there trying to juggle a preschooler and a toddler I am constantly reminded that he left us. That he is so ill that he cannot comprehend that he would have been supported, cared for, and forgiven within the Church. He has left us and it is now just me, the boys, and a bag or two of Cheerios in the fifth pew.

On Father’s Day 2016 I ventured to mass with my own father and two children. Armed with a bag of church appropriate goodies (which I was very much against when we were a family of four) I was determined to have a peaceful, faith filled hour. My soon-to-be Kindergartner got it. He did great, the toddler was a young two, so it was the typical struggle of an inquisitive 27 month old.

But it wasn’t their behavior that caused the anxious pain in my heart that day, they were actually quite well-behaved on the third Sunday of June. Instead it was the message. As I tried to squash my single mother anxiety when I prepared for mass that morning, I didn’t think about the possible homily. I didn’t think about the message that might be shared on our first official Father’s Day without him.

The priest began with statistics. Statistics about children from a fatherless home. The priest spoke words like, “low self-esteem, poverty, addiction…” These words made me uncomfortable, a little angry, somewhat sick. “Those will not be my children,” I thought to myself. However, before I could dwell on his statistics, the priest said (quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), “when human fatherhood has dissolved all statements about God the Father are empty”. This idea played over and over in my mind, as I held back tears. It made perfect sense – if one doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a human father, it is difficult to understand and trust in God the Father. With that statement my purpose became clear. After that statement, my dedication to sharing the faith with my children became renewed. I vowed to live a Catholic vision of family life for my children no matter the circumstances.    

With this in mind, I sought to answer two questions:

  1. How can my children even begin to understand God the Father without their own father as an example of Christ?
  2. How can I help my children to trust in the Lord when they have already experienced so much heartbreak in their young lives?

These are complicated and loaded questions that will most likely take me the next 20 years to answer, yet I have in my heart a simple plan: model and pray.

It’s a great responsibility to model our faith for our children. Our behaviors are what truly reveal our beliefs. It can be frightening when we become aware that our children are listening to us and watching us much more closely than we ever realized. We are the first and the primary teachers of faith to our children. I never expected to carry that responsibility on my own, but my situation only strengthens my commitment. I know that I must model the faith in hopes that they can experience the true love and trust of God the Father.

Along with trying to model the faith for my boys on a daily basis, I pray. I pray so fervently for my children, for my parents who help us everyday, for our supportive friends, for my former in laws, and for him – my ex-husband, their absent father. At first, those prayers were extremely difficult. There was, and still is, so much anger towards him. However, I pray for him. I know that it is a necessity. It’s the greatest modeling of the faith I can do for my children. I pray for him I pray for him at night. I pray for him in the car. I pray for him in moments of sheer single mother panic. I pray for him when it’s just me, the boys, and a bag or two of Cheerios in the fifth pew at Sunday mass.

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Take It and Be Happy

Patient holding handsAs I sat beside my father-in-law’s bedside, holding his hand while he lay with labored breathing, my head rested on the blanket and I quietly prayed. He would rouse a little and then settle back down for a moment, never fully sleeping but never truly awake either. It hurt to see him this way. The man I had known and loved for 26 years was always full of life! If he wasn’t smiling or laughing he was grumpy and moody and let you know it. We’d give him trouble for his grumpiness but we all loved it just as much as his smiles. But now, he was lying in a hospital bed in the middle of his living room, the cold metal reflecting the glow of the small lamp in the corner of the room, dying. He couldn’t sleep and yet he couldn’t stay awake either; his breathing irregular and his body uncomfortable. Pained looks would contort his face and occasionally a small tear would appear at the corner of his eye. He flitted between worlds- one foot stuck here with us, the other already in heaven.

It was heart-wrenching to see him like this. I cried softly and asked God to please let him come home; please take away his suffering. I prayed hard as I sat beside him, stroking his hand. I begged God to allow me to take on his suffering; that maybe if I could take it from him he would be free to leave and would be safe in Jesus’ loving embrace.  He suddenly opened his eyes, leaned forward and said to me in a strained whisper, “Take it and be happy.” My heart raced and my eyes were wide. I asked him what he wanted me to take. He didn’t answer.

He collapsed back into his pillow and sighed. His eyes closed and he fell asleep. These would be the last real words he said to me. He fidgeted some later through the night, but for the most part he slept. The next day he would leave us. He died holding both my mother-in-law’s hand and mine. It was the both devastating and beautiful at the same time.

In the months that have passed since his death, I have pondered his last words to me, “Take it and be happy.” I know I asked for his sufferings but I’m not sure if that is all he meant. I gladly accept them and feel honored to shoulder them, but I feel deep in my heart that he meant more than just that.  But what could he mean?

IMG_20140103_0036I look at our life together as parent and child. No, he was not my father but he treated me as a daughter. I know he loved me dearly and wanted only the best for me. Over the years he gave so much of himself to our family. He took care of us in the way he knew how… fixing things around our house, taking us on vacations, calling out of the blue when he was at a store to see if we needed a 10 foot ladder or an air compressor he found on sale even though it meant he would have to drag it 800 miles to us the next time he visited, sending forwarded emails he thought would make us smile, and by calling us every Sunday without fail to check on us. Yes, he loved us and made no qualms about showing us through actions and words. We never hung up the phone without a “Be careful!” and an “I love you!”

When I think of his last words to me I think of all these things… all these special ways he showed his love for us. As our father he loved us unconditionally. He never once refused to help us when we went to him with our heads hung low in despair. He didn’t turn us away or make us beg with shame. He cried for us, rejoiced with us, and was proud of us. He loved our children with all his heart and they loved their Poppy even more. He personified God as a loving father and friend. We knew we could trust him and rely on him. We knew he loved us more than anything in the world.

“Take it and be happy”… could he have meant for me to not only take his suffering from him as I had prayed to do, but to take the memories we shared, the memories he kept safe in his heart, and to be happy with them? When we take on someone’s suffering as our own we take a piece of their heart too. By asking for his sufferings was God willing to give me his happiness and joy too? Did my father-in-law know that I would need the happiness to handle the pain over such a tremendous loss?

I look at the cross and think about how Christ gave everything for us.  He offers Himself to us in a way that is unimaginable. It is an act of complete and unconditional love. He took our sufferings and made them His own. He knew that taking on our sufferings would free us. He knew that through His suffering we would gain heaven and eternal happiness. It pains me to look at the cross and see what a heavy price He paid for my sins. He offered Himself in my place and said of His sacrifice, “Take it and be happy.”

It has been five months since my father-in-law died and this Father’s day was a stark reminder of his absence. I wanted to pick up the phone to call him and tell him how much he means to me. I wanted to tease him for his grumpiness and laugh at his corny jokes. Most of all I just wanted to say “I love you” one more time and hear those words repeated back to me.  I know he is not gone forever. I know we will meet once again and I know that within our beautiful faith we believe in the communion of saints… we are all still connected through faith and love. He still sees us and hears us. He knows we love him and miss him. He knows we are so happy he is out of pain and in the arms of the Lord.

“Take it and be happy” he told me… Poppy, I take your suffering; I take your memories; I take your kindness and care; I take your heart and I take your love. I take them and I am happy. I love you so much.

poppy laughing

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12 Things Catholic Fathers Want to Tell You about Themselves

Last month, we shared with you 14 Things Catholic Moms Want to Tell You about Themselves. This month we wanted to do the same with our fathers, physical and spiritual. It takes a lot to raise these children of God and we couldn’t do it without dads. So, we give you things Catholic Fathers Want to Tell You about Themselves. Please read and share. 🙂


























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7 Quick Takes Friday, #7QT: Role Model Saints for Dads

7_quick_takes_smThis #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.


St. Joseph

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.

Further Reading:


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.”

Further Reading:


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.”

Further Reading:


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.

Further Reading:


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.

Further Reading:


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.”

Further Reading:


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.

Further Reading:

Who else would you add to this list and why?

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