Father's Day. A Chance to Say Thank You Dad

Article excerpt

Father Thomas Layden SJ, who lives in Belfast and is involved in retreat work and adult education, explains why it is important to remember the religious aspects of Father's Day.

THIRTEEN years have passed since the day, yet my recollection of it is as strong as if it had happened just yesterday.

My friend Alex was visiting from Australia and he had just a week to get around the country. It was a chance for him to meet various relations and to investigate his family history.

But the big project of the trip for Alex was to get to a little graveyard in Co Antrim. Why?

His secretary had asked him to go there on her behalf to find her dad's grave and bring a photo of it back to her in Australia.

She had never known her dad. He had died in a plane crash just before she was born.

As it was wartime - World War Two - he had been buried here rather than being brought back home to his native land. She had never had a chance to visit his burial place.

Now that her boss was going to be in the area it was important to her that he should bring back a photo that she could put on her desk to connect herself in some way with her dad and his lasting place.

It was about three in the afternoon when Alex and I found the spot. As we said the Lord's prayer together, I found myself deeply moved by this woman's sense of relationship with a father she had never really met in this life.

There was nothing mawkish or unhealthily sentimental about this. From what Alex told me I had a sense of a happy, efficient, well-adjusted person who was competent in her work and contented in her personal life.

You might object to this story on Father's Day. Your point might be that we want happy stories today and that this is a day of celebration. Indeed it is.

But I would argue that this is a happy story. It is the tale of a woman's love for her dad.

She would have felt incomplete without having some way in which she could acknowledge her relationship with her dad even though he had not been around for the 42 years of her life.

Each of us celebrates Father's Day in the way that is right for us, taking into account the circumstances of our lives. …