By TOM BOYLE, Special Contributor | Published July 7, 2005
About 125 fathers of present and former students of St. Pius X High School in Atlanta participated in this spring’s 14th annual Dads Day of Recollection.
The event, which featured talks, discussions, Mass, lunch and the sacrament of reconciliation, was sponsored by the Home and School Association and arranged by Joe Conboy and other St. Pius fathers.
Attendees listened to Msgr. Richard Lopez, St. Pius religion teacher for the past 24 years, speak on the important and challenging role of being a father.
Msgr. Lopez read from letters by St. Pius boys and girls about their fathers, written especially for this event.
“Tell about a time you brought comfort and consolation to your dads,” was one request. A student wrote, “My dad told me the bad news that my grandpa died. Dad hugged me so hard. I think he was so grateful he still had me to hug.”
Another student wrote that his father had a serious disease and thought he would die. “I went with him often on his treatment days. Every day I held his hand.”
Other students noted a variety of recollections: “the difficult days when my parents were divorcing”; “the day my dad came into my room and told of the sad job of having to fire an employee at work”; “the time when dad had to take the dog to be put to sleep, and I went with him, to be there for him.”
Msgr. Lopez told assembled parents about a holy card showing Jesus as a boy with St. Joseph, his foster father. He was a carpenter, perspiring at his work stand. Jesus was shown mopping Joseph’s brow.
He also told the fathers about an early version of the recent movie “Titanic.” A father put his family on a lifeboat but later noticed his son stayed back. When his dad asked why, the boy replied, “I couldn’t let you die alone.”
Msgr. Lopez said, “That’s what I think when I see Jesus crucified.”
Talking of the important role of fathers, Msgr. Lopez said, “When it comes to raising children, it’s time, not power, that is on the side of the righteous parent. Keep talking.”
He also cited harmful forces on TV and elsewhere today, making it hard to raise children with good value systems. “You can’t affect the forces that affect your children, but you can affect how they act on those forces.”
He noted also that “sinning as a father is worse than sinning as a son. Bad generations can follow.”
Also in their letters about their dads, students were asked, “Did you ever use humor to diffuse a situation at home, so there would be no anger?” One student wrote, “I was grounded. I could do nothing to diffuse my dad’s anger.”
Students responded to another question: “What was the wisest or most meaningful thing your father has said to you?” Msgr. Lopez read a student’s reply, “When my mom left my dad, most men would be critical. But my dad turned to God.”
Another student quoted his dad’s observation, “I will die as a happy man if all my kids have accepted Christ.”
Still another student wrote that his father said he believes in God. “I do, too, and it’s because Dad said so.”
A student wrote, “After the 9/11 tragedy, it made me so mad to see in church so many people who never went before 9/11. But my dad said, ‘Try not to judge others.’ Dad was right. Go, Dad.”