With Father’s Day approaching, we are busy with plans to properly celebrate the important men in our lives: the men who raised us, who supported us, who took care of our bumps and our bruises. We celebrate all fathers on this special day: biological, adopted, step, foster, and even those who answered the call to become priests.
On one of my mission trips to Nigeria, I spent a few evenings in a rectory where a retired priest was living. The conditions in which he lived were shocking to me. This retired priest was living in a building that was also home to rats, bats, and all sorts of bugs. Although I felt these conditions were not living conditions for a priest, he told me that they were far better than the living conditions of his villagers / parishioners.
As a participant of the Bethlehem Serra Club in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, Diocese, I was once asked to visit a priest at a nearby retirement villa. This priest was ill, lonely, and did not often receive visitors. He was an only child and had no remaining family members. At this time, I was new to the Catholic Church, and I felt so grateful and humbled to spend time with him. Visiting Father McKenna brought me such immense joy. I was able to share my love for the Eucharist with him, and my newfound calling to become a missionary. As I excitedly shared all this, Father McKenna often found himself unable to get many words in. However, the few words that he did say made me feel supported, much like how any father would support a child.
We must remember that our priests are fathers too. They welcome us into the Church at Baptism. They offer us the holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to strengthen and sustain us. They provide us with a time to repent during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They anoint us in times of illness, bringing us the healing presence of the Lord. These fathers have been called by God to help each and every one of us to reach our final destination, to be with the most important father, our heavenly Father in His kingdom of Heaven.
On this Father’s Day, let us take a moment to say “Happy Father’s Day” to all of the special men in our lives who have stepped into this role as father. May God bless and strengthen each of them. And may the Lord welcome all the fathers who have returned home to Him.
Blessings ~ and Happy Father's Day,
In loving memory of Monsignor Robert M. Forst, the oldest priest in the Diocese of Allentown, who died on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in the Holy Family Villa in Bethlehem. His death came on the very day of his 70th anniversary of ordination as a priest. He was 95 years old. Until his death, Monsignor Forst was the longest-ordained priest in the Allentown Diocese. May he rest in peace.
“Hol(l)y Headlines!” ~ a bit of a play on words ~ is an "Extra! Extra! Read All About It" call to build missionary momentum as part of our ongoing effort to educate and motivate the next generation of the Catholic Church's missionaries. The blog's author, Holly Benner, is National Coordinator for the Missionary Childhood Association. She's also the mission education coordinator in her home Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has a passion for the missions and experience in making mission real at the diocesan level. For 10 years, Holly traveled frequently to Africa as president of a faith-based non-profit that she founded, one focused on developing sustainable water resources among poor communities.
Grilling for the Missions
Most consider holidays like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day as prime times for a family BBQ. But making the top five of Americans' most popular holidays for grilling in 2020 was Father's Day. As you remember the fathers in your own life this Father's Day, consider offering something to help fathers and families in the Pope's missions.