The idea of Father’s Day started in 1908, when a Church in West Virginia honoured 362 men who were killed in a coal mining explosion the previous year. Several years later, Sonora Smart Dodd from Washington, who was raised by a single father, promoted Father’s Day as a National holiday as how Mother’s Day was declared a National holiday. The first Father’s Day was officially celebrated on 19 June 1910 in Washington.
It took almost 60 years for Father’s Day to be celebrated worldwide. Some countries celebrate Father’s Day on different days, namely Australia and New Zealand as well as in Latin America, where Father’s Day is celebrated in conjunction with the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19.
More commonly, Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday of June. This year, it falls this weekend (18 June). Once again, we are privileged to celebrate with the fathers in our families and in our Church. It is a day to thank fathers (great-grandfathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, godfathers, uncles, priests) for their daily sacrifices and for caring for us.
When I first became a priest, a friend of mine wished me and said, “You too deserve to celebrate with us on Father’s Day!” I was delighted and proud to join all the other fathers to celebrate this day. Being a spiritual Father, I, too, carry the responsibility not unlike other dads - by looking after my Parishioners/Children of God - “never to drive them to resentment but bring them up with correction and advice inspired by the Lord” (cf. Ephesians 6:14). Fathers, never give up or get frustrated with your children, but carry out your duties of nurturing and guiding your children in a loving and caring manner.
Our fathers have taught us how to succeed in life and how to love unconditionally. Fathers are pillars of families, and we appreciate their silent commitment and dedication to their children. Fathers have, in one way or another, greatly influenced many individuals, families, societies and nations. Fathers should not be stern or strict, or be angry or too harsh with their children; instead, fathers must coach them with love and kindness, as well as gentle discipline, so that children find happiness and peace in a safe and loving environment.
Fathers should live their faith at the forefront of everything they do and righteously guide their children. Fathers should strive to be like the Heavenly Father, full of compassion and love towards His children. As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, may all fathers promise to be more encouraging and inspiring, to help their children grow psychologically, emotionally, morally and spiritually.