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Friday, 30 August 2019 11:49

A Father's Day reflection

Written by Fr Frank Gerry SVD


Father's Day can hold many emotions for both men and women - those who had a loving father that passed away, those who never knew their dad, those expectantly waiting to become a dad soon, and countless other situations surrounding the father-child relationship. God can use this special day to draw us closer to Himself - the one true Father who remains faithful and full of unconditional love.

On this Father's Day, may the prayers we share this Eucharist invoke a Special Blessing of God’s peace, hope, and love for your home and family today.

Homily Father’s Day 2019

Fr Frank Gerry SVD

Fr Frank Gerry SVD 150I believe the last time I celebrated a Sunday Mass with you was Mother’s Day and I shared reflections about my mother whom I called The Keeper of a Secret.

Today I come again with some personal reflections, this time about my father. Dad was a simple, ordinary, fun-loving father!

One important early memory I have of my father was listening to him say his morning prayers. I slept on the verandah of our Brisbane home, just beside a set of glassed doors. On the other side of the doors was our lounge-room and there my father would kneel by one of the chairs and recite his morning prayer out aloud.

As a child I was deeply touched by his sincerity, his humility and the manner of his praying. After his prayer he would get up, turn on the radio and listen to hillbilly songs while he made tea and toast for my mother. That was his morning ritual. It never changed.

When he was ready to go to work he would stop in front of a picture of the holy family and say a pray, offering his day’s work to gain a blessing for his family.

He worked for Castlemaine - Perkins, the maker of Fourex Beer. He started work there as a boy of about fourteen and retired at the age of 75. On his retirement, they presented him with a set of pewter mugs on a tray and the gift of two bottles of Red Seal Rum every month for the rest of his life. He lived until he was 80.

Fathers Day 450When I was about three or four years old, he used to call me his little Chinese missionary. I have no idea why. Of course, I forgot all about that as time went by, but when I was twenty-one and already a young student in the Missionary Society of the Divine Word, I remembered and wondered about his gift of prophecy.

He encouraged us in our sporting activities and bought me a football when I was about five years old. In his younger days he was a footballer himself. One of the sporting activities of the Marist Brothers parish school that I attended was boxing. We had boxing tournaments and everyone was supposed to participate. One year I represented the school in a State boxing tournament and got as far as the semi-final. My father unknown to me was in the stadium for I could hear his voice shouting out encouragement to me, but it didn’t help.

I was getting a belting, and I thought to myself, ”Poor Dad, watching his son get a beating.” My opponent was Freddie Sinn, a Chinese youth. He was seventeen and I was thirteen. I came back the next year and won the championship of the 6 stone/ten division. I was mosquito-weight champion of Queensland at fourteen.

Around the same time, at an evening meal, my father asked me what I wanted to become as my God-mother had suggested to him I join the sea-cadets. From across the dining-room table I replied, saying “I wanted to become a priest.” My father almost swallowed his fork in shock.
Five years later, when I was nineteen, there was a farewell party for me and I gave my little farewell speech to my family and relatives. I was moving to Chicago USA to continue my studies for the priesthood. I would be away nine years. I remember that evening, after the guests had left, watching my mother chase my father through the house. He was overcome with grief at my leaving. The next morning, we were having a cup of tea in the kitchen while my mother prepared lunch. They were talking about my departure and my mother said to my father, “Well, God gives them to us and then he takes them away.”

As simple as that!

I wondered to myself, “Mum, how can you say that, Mum, in such a detached way?” My father was silent. After awhile, he replied, “Yeah! But it hurts.” That was the simple fact!

There was another departure many years later. I was leaving for a year’s sabbatical in the States and staying at home with my parents before I left. On the early morning of my departure, I reached across the bed to shake hands with my father. His remark to me was “Pray that I will be here when you come back!” I believe we both knew he wouldn’t be. I’m sure he put his head in his pillow after I left and wept; and I nursed a screaming migraine all the way to Bombay, the first stop. My father died three weeks later.

Fatherhood! What a privileged role! Like one with outstretched arms welcoming a dawning of a new day! The immensity of opportunity to be and become,
to enable another fragile human life to emerge with life-giving love, with hope and wonder,
with risk and daring, grasping the opportunity with deep respect and responsibility!
What a wonder! Can words really say it all?

Thank you Lord for inviting us to be like you in nurturing life and reaching out to enable the unfolding future!

Last modified on Friday, 30 August 2019 12:15