Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

6/17/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The role of fatherhood is critical to the life and health of the family and society

I had two experiences this year which shed some light on the meaning of fatherhood for me. One concerns a story told by a nun from Africa. Her story helped me see the relationship between masculinity and fatherhood. The second experience is based on the eulogy given for a father by one of his daughters at his funeral. It was a beautiful testament to fatherhood.

99-year-old Joseph Burriesci

99-year-old Joseph Burriesci

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/17/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Father's Day, Father, Dad, Family, Joseph Burriesci, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - I would like to share two experiences I had this year which shed some light on the meaning of fatherhood for me. The first experience concerns a story told by a nun, Sister Elizabeth. Her story helped me see the relationship between masculinity and fatherhood. My second experience is based on the eulogy given for a father by one of his daughters at his funeral. It was a beautiful testament to fatherhood.

On the relationship between masculinity and fatherhood

Sister Elizabeth is a missionary from Africa and presently assigned to the Diocese of Knoxville in Tennessee. She recently held a men's retreat which focused on fatherhood. She described fathering as faithfully providing for the needs of the life one is responsible for bringing into existence. This includes providing leadership, guidance and security, as well as material, emotional and spiritual support.

She also pointed out that the role of fatherhood is largely determined by masculine characteristics and the needs of the children and their mother. To drive this point home, she told us about some members of her congregation who were attacked by a band of armed Muslims at a mission where they were living.

One of the sisters was captured by the Muslims. By God's grace, she escaped unharmed. The other nuns huddled together in a room in one of the buildings. The Muslims were searching for them and tearing up the mission. The stress was unbearable and they felt utterly helpless. Then they heard trucks racing across the mission grounds, men shouting and gunfire. Help had arrived.

According to sister, the presence of the men and the sound of their voices was enough to calm the nun's fears and make them feel secure, even before the battle was won. I think this is significant. Masculine characteristics--such as size, strength, deep voice, and assertiveness--manifest a strength that is meant to fulfill certain needs in others, especially those who are weaker.

Sister's story also reminded me that children have real needs. They need to be cared for materially, emotionally and spiritually. They need to know that you will be there for them. They need to feel secure, and so do their mothers. Men fulfill this role in a unique way for children, women and others in society. The role of fatherhood is critical to the life and health of the family and society. And it has a lifelong impact on children, which is evident based on the eulogy included below.

A beautiful testament to fatherhood

Joseph Burriesci fulfilled Sister's definition of fatherhood. He was faithful to his children and their mother. He provided them with leadership; guidance, security; and support for their material, emotional, and spiritual needs. Joe learned about fatherhood at a young age. He was the eldest of eight children. His dad died while they were still young, so Joe had to take over for his dad. He even gave away four of his sisters when they got married. Joe was born on October 30, 1912, and he died on March 1, 2012, about eight months before his 100th birthday.

My wife and I went to Joe's funeral. I never met him. I learned about him from his daughter, Marilyn, who is a friend of ours. At the funeral, Marilyn's older sister gave the eulogy for their father. I thought it was so inspiring and offered such an excellent example of fatherhood that I asked Marilyn if I could share it with Catholic Online readers. She kindly agreed, so here it is in its entirety:

"Patient, gracious, intelligent, and benevolent are just of the few of the virtues that describe our Dad and Grandfather. He was a role model for many during his lifetime. I held him in the highest esteem, which my siblings, husband and daughter can testify. He was never a burden as everything done for him was done out of love.

"So on this day of our final farewell, I have a few words to impart about our Dad and Grandfather. He spent his long life as an inspiration to all of us. Because of Dad and of course his right arm, our Mom, we kids had a wonderful, happy life. They set the foundation, and we were very lucky to have been their children and grandchildren.

"Our Dad was a loving husband and a generous, dedicated and selfless father. He was the father of three daughters and one son, the grandfather of nine and the great grandfather of 31, with another on the way, not a small feat.

"I was well into adulthood before I realized that there was nothing Dad couldn't fix. And he could come up with an idea to fix anything using many a creative means. My husband referred to him as the "Pope," as that is the way he said I viewed Dad--infallible!

"He was a fantastic Dad always there when we needed him emotionally, physically and otherwise. I'm sure each of us has a selfless story about Dad as that was the type of individual he was.

"He was a very upbeat guy. He had a super positive attitude. Nothing could get him down for long. He was always the gentleman, holding the door so you could pass first. He did this well into his nineties and most times for those younger than he.

"He led by example. He never thought of himself first. He would wait until everyone was seated at the dinner table before taking his first bite of food. He was physically, emotionally and mentally strong. For these virtues he was greatly admired. He never complained. He was the most appreciative man. He always thanked you for whatever you did for him, no matter how small.

"In our eyes our Dad was a notch or two above the rest. We were all blessed to have him in our lives. He will be sorely missed. He leaves immensely large shoes to fill and a gigantic hole in our hearts.

"I don't believe we will ever look at a bird in our back yards and not think of him. He enjoyed looking at the birds and the clouds going by. When we see a chess puzzle, a boxing match or baseball game scheduled for TV, or pasta and wine on Sundays, we'll think of Dad as those were what he enjoyed.

"As our Mom said many times "God threw the mold away after he made your Dad." Very true! And if Dad were sitting out there among you now he would lean over to whichever of his children was next to him and say, "Look at that Jackie, she doesn't know enough to stop talking and sit down."

"We love you Dad! We'll miss you! Rest in peace. You've earned it!"

God bless you Joe and all fathers on this Father's Day.

 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Undeniably cute rendition of classic children's song is sure to put a smile on your face Watch

Image of Josie sings an adorable song to her father.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the midst of war, terror and disease, it's important to take the time to smile and remember that some of the world is good. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An adorable toddler melts hearts with her spunky rendition of classic children's song "Old McDonald." ... continue reading


Mother of quadruplets tragically dies without ever seeing her four miracles Watch

Image of Erica Morales, 36-years-old, tragically passed away hours after giving birth to quadruplets.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just hours after giving birth to quadruplets, Arizona mother, Erica Morales, died. "She never got to hold them, she never got to see them," cried Morales' cousin, Nicole Todman to Fox10. "It is so hard to know she fought so hard for her children. She will never get to ... continue reading


Archbishop of San Francisco warns of coming war on marriage Watch

Image of The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On January 16, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the "essential meaning of marriage," as defining "a bond which unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children who come from their union." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


One... two... three babies?! New mother gets shocking surprise in ultrasound Watch

Image of Boe, Mika and Hope love to cuddle. (Magic Moments SWNS.com)

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Imagine hoping for one child, and being told you're pregnant with triplets; this was the case for British mother of now four, Melanie Thornton. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Melanie had a happy life with just her 13-year-old daughter and husband. Her husband, ... continue reading


Do you know what your kids are putting online? Here are 30 text acronyms that your teen DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW Watch

Image of Teens have an entire code for keeping parents clueless about their activities.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In this new age of easy, fast and discrete communication the English language has rapidly evolved in a way that may leave many older people at a loss. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Acronyms rule the digital airwaves, being all important in the world of ... continue reading


14 years later: Extreme and horrific child abuse victim, Lauren Kavanaugh, thrives Watch

Image of Lauren Kavanaugh, now 21-years-old, attends college and plans on becoming a counselor to help those going through similar situations as hers.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Routinely raped and tortured, Lauren Kavanaugh was forced to live in a 4ft by 9ft closet for five years of her life until she was rescued in 2001. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Now 21-years-old, Lauren lives the "normal" life of a college student aspiring to make ... continue reading


Should marriage be defined by the legal system? The Supreme Court may aim to change the textbook definition of marriage Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court may decide on same-sex marriage, as early as June of this year.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What is the definitive definition of marriage? Is it only a union before God between men and women, or is it extended to same-sex couples as well? This is a question that may be legally decided by the Supreme Court, which is set to decide soon if it will take up ... continue reading


The Reality of Marriage: The Lifelong Union of One Man and One Woman Watch

Image of

By Deacon Frederick K. Bartels

Marriage is a unique reality. There is no possibility of redefining it, shaping it in a new and essentially different way, or altering its nature, since marriage is authored by God and woven into the fabric of human life. The reality of marriage is the permanent union ... continue reading


A dream come true: Paraplegic woman remarkably walks down the wedding aisle Watch

Image of [Photo Courtesy of Disney Fine Art Photography and Video]

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Walking down the aisle, adorned in the prettiest wedding dress, reaching the arms of your Prince Charming is every girl's dream come true. For Tami Martin, this dream appeared to be only a fairytale when she was told she would never walk again. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


The Quad Squad arrives: Viral quadruplets enter the world Watch

Image of Ashley Gardner was completely shocked to learn she would be having four babies.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ashley and Tyson Gardner welcomed to the world their, already viral, quadruplets. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Indie, Esme, Scarlett and Evangeline, better known as the Gardner Quad Squad, made their entrance on Sunday, December 28. Each weighing in at about ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:1-10
1 So, since the Law contains no more than a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-8, 10, 11
2 He pulled me up from the seething chasm, from the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:31-35
31 Now his mother and his brothers arrived and, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 27th, 2015 Image

St. Angela Merici
January 27: When she was 56, Angela Merici said "No" to the Pope. She was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter