Confidence in Fatherhood

In the Visitation Mission we witness first hand the special love God the Father bestows on pregnant women and their babies.  In a mission where we daily encounter the sufferings and heart aches of single mothers and their children, the Sisters have also been privileged to witness men who pour out their lives, living their vocation of fatherhood with daily fidelity, in both ordinary and heroic ways.

Let me share some stories with you.

When “Justin” learned that his girlfriend was pregnant and seriously considering abortion he did everything possible to support her and encourage her in give life to their child.  After speaking with his parish priest “Justin” called the Sisters of Life.  He brought “Therese” to visit the Sisters for the first time.  Several years later, now as a father and a husband, “Justin” continues to be faithful in loving his son and his wife Therese.

When “Mary and Steve” learned that their unborn child was sick in the womb and was not expected to live they were devastated.  As they struggled through the myriad of doctors appointments, intense pressures to abortion, confusion, grief and fear, they came to a decision to welcome baby Grace into their lives for however long God gave her to live.  Steve pledged to his wife “we will do this together” and Mary recalled later “I never loved him more than on that day.”

Sr. Mary remembers with a smile, going to the hospital with “Sandra” at the time of her labour.  The father of the baby was there with them in the waiting room earnestly reading “How to be a Good Father” by Stephen Wood.

Desperate to leave a war torn country in the Middle East for the safety of their children, “Frances” and her husband “David” made the difficult decision to have Francis move to theUSfor work and sponsor their family to join her.  Separated for 3 yrs, David raised and cared for their 3 children.  After a visit homeFrancesreturned to theUSand found out she was pregnant – without work, home or family.  The Sisters walked.,  with her through her pregnancy and witnessed the joyful reunion when her family finally arrive in theUS.  It has been such a privilege to get to know David, and to see his great love and sacrifice for his wife and children.

Calling God Father is not an analogy, i.e., a way of helping us to understand that God is “like” a human father. Instead God IS Father and all human fatherhood has its source in God the Father.  Men must seek to let the perfect paternity of “God the Father radiate through their humanity.  A man’s fatherhood is fruitful to the degree that he himself lives as a loving and obedient son of God. Charles Peguy the great French poet wrote:  God the Father, through the blood of the Son and the fire of the Spirit, transform earthly fathers, if they cooperate with His grace, into worthy images of His strong and incandescent paternity.’

In the absence of a biological father, we have witnessed other men respond with fatherly hearts as spiritual fathers and role models for the women and children we serve.

“Clovis” is faithful Prayer Guardian of the Sisters of Life.  He prays for many women daily, by name, as his spiritual children.

“Lilly” recently moved into a Holy Respite family with her 2 yr old son.  “Clinton” the host father has been spending time every day playing in the yard with little “Sam ” while the mothers watch on and converse.  At the family dinner table Sam recently started calling the host father “papa.”

When “Lindsay’s” boyfriend told her she had to get an abortion, Lindsay’s dad stood up to him and said, “I will be a father to this child.”  Lindsay had a strained relationship with her dad and his strong support of her during her pregnancy brought great healing to their relationship.

In our mission we witness first hand how Our Heavenly Father – “Father of the Poor, Father of the widow and orphan”  – takes special care women and children abandoned by men who do not embrace their God given vocation as fathers.

God created us giving us the gift of life and recreates us as His own CHILDREN in the sacrament of baptism.  In baptism God becomes our Father and we become children of God, His beloved son, His beloved daughter. Being a child of God is our deepest identity.

Jesus called God “Abba” and He teaches us to do the same. St. Therese called God “Papa the Good God.”

The little way of St. Therese, is first of all a devotion and confidence in God the Father.  She made it her mission to sing of the unbounded compassion of God the Father, to surrender herself to His merciful love.

My heaven is to remain for ever in His presence,
To call Him my Father and to be His child.
In His divine arms, I do not fear the storm.
Total abandonment, that alone is my law.
Poem – St. Therese

The Catechism tells us (CCC 239) that “by calling God ‘Father’, the language of faith indicated two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children.”  God’s Fatherhood and His power shed light on each other.

We thank God for all the men in our families, in our neighbourhoods, in our parishes and those who serve with the Sisters in our missions.  In their lives is reflected the love, compassion, protection, providence and mercy of God the Father.  Together let us pray, through the intercession ofSt. Joseph, for a new awakening and a deepening awareness within the hearts of all people of the great dignity and nobility given to men in God’s invitation to participate in the fatherhood of God.

Here are some great websites on fatherhood: