It Can be Found in Fatherhood

It Can be Found in Fatherhood

If there is ever a test about faith, and truly understanding the values and importance of faith, it can be found in fatherhood.

Believing and trusting God’s plan while each day brings a new adventure and challenge from bullies and exclusion, eating vegetables, to 6th grade math homework, there is never a dull moment. Knowing tomorrow, God is always there and trusting the process requires patience, prayer, and teamwork. When I think about the responsibilities and challenges of being a father, I believe that I have been blessed in my  life with incredible examples. 

Growing up going to Catholic schools, learning from the Jesuits in college, and working in Catholic schools as an adult, there is no shortage of inspiration and example. Each one has impacted and influenced my journey as a dad, but there are two that stand out. I know that their impact has helped me be a better father and person.

Being a Brother:

As a prideful middle child, I always tease my older brother by saying I look up to him only because he’s taller than me. To be honest, both my brothers are taller than me. When my parents decide to pose us for a picture in birth order, I end up looking like a scarecrow with both arms extended to the taller shoulders on either side of me. I can truthfully say, though, I look up and admire my older brother for the father he is and have leaned on those shoulders for more than just pictures. I always believed that things came easy for my brother and I would do my best to make things very not easy for him. As we have grown older, there are moments that I still think this way, but have learned that there is a bigger picture. We grew up as a boy family. Three boys. Spaced out by 4 years and 6 years, we each grew up finding out our different hobbies, interests, and personalities. My parents say we were spaced out so we would never find ourselves on opposing teams on the ice. We learned that this was very much true after a fateful alumni game where we ended up on opposing teams. I think it went great, but my older brother may see it differently. When my brother became a dad, my opinion began to change. When I became a dad, my admiration grew. My brother has three amazing kids and he demonstrates faith and courage every single day. I’m thankful for him and his journey. It has not been the easiest, but his poise, grace, and strength of character has been so inspirational. I really appreciate our pep talks and his advice. We are told that a good way to go through life is to see Christ in others and keep Christ in your heart. I see Christ in my brother because Christ never complained. Christ never said “this isn’t fair” or “I can’t.” Through recent challenges, I know my brothers heart hurts, but he never complains. He never says, “this isn’t fair” or “I can’t.” He knows God is there tomorrow and he continues to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity. To me, that’s a faithful dad.

 As a true middle child, I can not give all this praise to my older brother without keeping him a bit humble by saying neither of us would be remotely close to the men, brothers, professionals, or fathers we are without our dad.

the author's brothers and father

Being a Son:

Nicknamed the Commander, my dad is an amazing man of faith. I always think of the story of the wise man building his house on the rock. My dad built his family on the values of our Catholic faith and the importance of prayer. My dad was the oldest of 6 in a rough and tumble family outside of Boston. Sounds made up but it was Tommy, Ronny, Kenny, Paulie, Jamie, Bobby and Gail. He joined the Navy after his high school graduation and later went on to the US Naval Academy. He was a career Navy man continuing to work for the Navy after his retirement from active service. He coached hockey at the Naval Academy. He was a part of the EOD, which stands for Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Between being the oldest sibling of so many and diving under water to dispose bombs, I believe he had all the training he needed for raising my brothers and I. Recently, I read his reflections on almost becoming a priest and his trust and faith in and for the Church. Although, my dad being a model of discipline, the Catholic faith and a strong prayer life, it is most likely my mom who is destined for sainthood for having to put up with all four of us! We attended mass every Sunday dressed in our Sunday best. We “volunteered” to altar serve, including Easter Vigil and sang in the choir. We had MFF, mandatory family fun which included going on hikes or family trips. We didn’t really ever stay in a hotel unless it was for hockey. We sat down for dinner, always in the same spots, me always in “arm distance”, and always prayed before the meal. These were all things that strengthened our family and our faith. The things that we learned later in life about my dad and his faith were even more admirable. He never drew attention to his giving. Prayed daily away from our watchful eyes. Praying every day for my brothers and I. Following the scripture of not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, my dad donated to many charities. We discovered that this why we would always receive so much “junk” mail. We would try to sneak looks through the church envelope to see what he wrote on the check every Sunday. We were never successful. My dad gives of his time as well. Volunteering at the hospital in his retirement and continuing to pray for the world around him and our family. 

I grew up pretty much on the Naval Academy campus, following my dad around on hockey trips and games for his team. My goal was to follow in his footsteps and attend the academy. When I didn’t get accepted, it was hard. I felt like I let him down. We never really talked about it, but it never felt right. Little did I know, this was again God’s hand and God’s plan. I pride myself on being a different type of hockey coach. I know that I am fulfilling that dream of following in my dad’s footsteps in the way that I coach. It’s built in the belief that we don’t prepare our athletes for the next step in hockey, but more so, the next steps in life. Being Christ centered athletes of character and integrity will better serve them in the years to come.  Being generously giving of my time and prayers is something else I try to follow.

Being a Father:

When I reflect on Father’s Day, it is very easy to think of my hat trick at home that have blessed me with the highest honor of being a dad. I love being their dad and all that comes with it. I am thankful that the world seems to be coming back to the importance of family, faith, and fatherhood! For a while, it seemed like those were “f-words” we needed to not say. I’m thankful that I have fathers in my life that make it a sense of honor, pride, dedication, and love. I am also thankful that I can be “dad” to my players and students. Setting a good example and celebrating my two families, the one on the ice and the one in my home. I hope that they see what an awesome experience it is to be a father.

A true act of faith. We can prep, prepare, and pray, but tomorrows plan is in God’s hands.

—Mr. Michael Marshall/ AP World History teacher Servite High School

James 1:2-3

Matthew 25:40

mens one blessing bracelet link to mens collection

More Posts