Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


New Tradition Established At Popular Dads’ Day

By KATHY COTE, Special Contributor | Published February 26, 2004

A unique commitment to their Catholic faith and the rigors of fatherhood in the year 2004 motivated more than 250 men to attend a “Dads’ Morning of Recollection” Jan. 31, featuring the wisdom of keynote speaker Msgr. Richard Lopez.

The annual men’s retreat, which has been a tradition at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta since 1991, was expanded this year to welcome fathers of past and present students at Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn, and the Marist School, Atlanta. The response was overwhelming, including attendance by seven other priests who came for the opening liturgy and for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Throughout the Saturday program, which was held at St. Pius, Msgr. Lopez captivated the audience with humorous anecdotes illustrating his central message, “God as Father and Fathers as God’s Image.” Men of all ages benefited from his insightful presentations on being a better father, husband and spiritual leader by incorporating laughter, prayer, fellowship and Scripture readings into family life. The morning sessions ranged from prayerful reflections on topics like gratitude, holiness and forgiveness, to a string of humorous stories related directly by teens about their dads, shared by Msgr. Lopez, who has taught at St. Pius for 23 years.

“A child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father,” was one insight shared by Msgr. Lopez, as he challenged the men to be better parents.

“He brings so many good points to light that people leave wanting to be a better father,” said Joe Conboy, one of the event organizers. “We heard all along that it was a consistently great experience for everyone.”

The annual morning of reflection is an ideal venue for Catholic fathers to get together and share insights, according to Msgr. Lopez.

“They don’t get many opportunities to sit down and talk about faith and fatherhood,” he said. “Here they are able to share ideas and experiences. The day is actually a blessing for me, and I am grateful for all of the men who are there.”

In previous years, several of the area Catholic high schools have hosted special retreats for fathers, but this year’s joint celebration has established a new tradition many hope will continue.

“This year was especially meaningful because we had the entire Catholic family together,” said Steve Spellman, a father of two and principal of St. Pius. “Msgr. Lopez was just amazing, as usual, and it was a terrific day for all of the fathers who participated.”

“The men share a common ground of Christian fatherhood,” said Father David Musso, SM, chaplain of the Marist School. “We were able to have valuable reflective moments about the influence of the father-child relationship we all experienced.”

Plans for the 2005 gathering are currently underway, and although a date has not yet been established, the format and timing for the morning retreat will remain the same. Information and registration forms will be available at all of the Atlanta-area Catholic high schools and at local parish offices next January.