Sunday, June 21, 2009


As our nation celebrates Fathers' Day and we honor dear old Dad, let us not forget our other two fathers, Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church and Head of the Holy Family, and our Holy Father, Pope Benedict (whose baptismal name is also Joseph, in case anyone forgot).

When I was a newly ordained Priest, less than a month (the oil still wet on the palms, as they say), my beloved Dad, God rest his soul, sent me my FIRST Father's Day card. Inside he wrote how proud he was to be my Dad and how unworthy he felt to be the father of a priest. He also said that he was confident that I would love and take care of my spiritual children just as he tried to do all the years I was growing up. And even though I would always be his son and he would always be my loving dad, he was honored to be able to call me "Father John" now that I was a priest.

Although that card got a little stained from a few tears, I never forgot the message or the sentiment, especially when my dad died in 1998, ten years after my ordination.

Back in 1988, some of us more traditional guys used a maniturgium to wipe the sacred chrism off our hands after being anointed by the Bishop who ordained us a priest. Custom was to give the linen to your mother who would keep it for her burial as a sign she was the mother of a priest. Me and Father Brighenti did that as many of our predecessors before us. My dad teased me at the First Mass when I gave my mom the maniturgium and he asked "and what does the father of the Father get?" to which Father Bob Levis, who vested me replied "you get the bill for the reception."

Nowadays, newly ordained not only maintain the custom of giving the maniturgium to their moms, they also started a new custom of giving their dad a purple stole. The newly ordained priest would hear his first confession using this new stole and present it to his father just as he would give his mother the linen used to wipe off the sacred chrism. I wish that custom had been around twenty-one years ago when I was ordained. Nevertheless, I did sneak a small purple stole into my dad's coffin before the funeral. It was not my first purple stole but it was from my first anointing of the sick set.

As the YEAR FOR PRIESTS gets underway, let us pray to good Saint Joseph that he will protect our Holy Father as he protected the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child. Let us also pray that all priests will seek to emulate Saint Joseph and stay close to Our Divine Lord and His Blessed Mother.

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Kimberlee said...

Thank you, Father, for this beautiful post! I love the pictures and the memories of your holy, earthly father - how blessed you were by him. And a most Happy, Blessed Father's Day to you!

opey124 said...

What a beautiful story.

Anne said...

Thank you so much for sharing your memories of your ordination and how it affected your parents. How blessed you are to have such wonderful parents! My oldest son, who is now 15, talks about the priesthood quite a bit. I love the custom of the maniturgium! Reading about it gave me goosebumps! Happy Belated Fathers Day and thank you for this great blog! I look forward to visiting often!

Crux Fidelis said...

What a beautiful tradition of which I was totally ignorant.

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