Catholic Throwback Thursday: Celebrating good Dads and the families they raised on the anniversary of the first Father’s Day


Anniversary of the first Father’s Day:

Today is the 104th anniversary of Fathers Day. The driving force behind this celebration in our nation was Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. The daughter of a single father who raised six children on his own, Dodd was inspired to push for a similar day to honor all fathers when she heard a sermon at her Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about Anna Jarvis’ establishment of Mother’s Day.

(Fun Fact: Anna Jarvis emphasized that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world.”)

Dodd urged her pastor to join her campaign to honor Dads starting on the June 5 birthday of her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Local pastors claimed they did not have enough time to plan their sermons, so the date was moved to later in June. The following year, on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day was observed throughout Spokane, Washington with sermons honoring fathers given at area churches.

Though observed annually on the third Sunday in June, it was not until 1972, six years after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential proclamation honoring fathers, that President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day into a national holiday by signing it into law.

Honoring and remembering some influential Dads:

For this week’s edition of Catholic Throwback Thursday, I’m looking back at some of the Dads who raised many of the Catholic leaders whom we have admired over the years.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Flores, Buenos Aires, the eldest of the five children of Italian immigrant Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori.

 

Pope Francis as a young priest is seen with his father, Mario José Bergoglio, an accountant, and Regina María Sívori. (Photo: AFP)


Formal family portrait of the Bergoglios in Buenos Aires: Standing from left: Alberto, Padre Jorge, Oscar, Marta;
Seated: María Elena (the only sibling of the Holy Father still alive today), with their mother
Regina María Sívori, and father, Mario José Bergoglio. (Photo: Archives, Reuters/ AP)

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was born and baptized as Josef Aloisius Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was the youngest of the three children of Josef Ratzinger, Sr. and Maria Peintner Ratzinger. His sister Maria, who never married, managed the household of her Cardinal-brother in Germany until her death in 1991. Their brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, is still alive today.

The brothers attended seminary together after the end of World War II and were ordained in Munich on June 29, 1951.

 

Father Josef Ratzinger (standing right), and his brother Father Georg Ratzinger (standing left), with their father Josef, sister Maria, and mother Maria on their ordination day, June 29, 1951.

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The Very Rev. G. Gregory Gay, CM, whose family members have been lifelong parishioners of Saint Stephen Church, Bradshaw, is a native of Kingsville and a 1971 graduate of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Since 2004, he has served as the Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, and the 24th successor of Saint Vincent de Paul.

But when he’s here in town, it is all about family….

One of ten children, Fr. Greg is seen with his brothers (from left) Joe, Bill, and John with their father George Gay at the August 16, 1987 wedding of their sister Mary Anne Gay Halloran. Mr. Gay, who passed away in December of 2006, and his late wife Jeanne left a legacy of strong faith and family values to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
 (Photo courtesy of Patty Gay O’Brien, Rebecca O’Brien, and family.)

Read more about Fr. Greg in my three-part series from last September and October on his family, vocation to Vincentian priesthood, and his life of service to the poor and disenfranchised all over the world: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 

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Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 6, 1950, the eldest of the five children born to Shirley Radcliffe Dolan and the late Robert Dolan. Mr. Dolan passed away from a fatal heart attack less than ten months after their son’s June 19, 1976 ordination to the priesthood.

Family members have recalled the importance to Mr. Dolan of sending his children to Catholic schools, going to Mass, and having a strong work ethic. When son Timothy was in the seminary in Rome, his Dad sent a handwritten letter every week and often included a cassette tape with his thoughts and musings so his son could stay in touch with home and family in a more personal way.

 

Cardinal Dolan’s Mom, Shirley Dolan displays her family portrait at her home in Ballwin, Missouri:
 Seated with her late husband Robert, and surrounded by their children
 (from left): Lisa, Debbie, Timothy, Bob and Patrick. (Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News)

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our only Catholic president of the United States, was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (1888–1969) and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995).

JFK at right and his brother Robert with their Dad, Joseph Kennedy, in July of 1938.
 Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. with his famous family: This formal Kennedy Family portrait was taken on September 4, 1931 at the family estate in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts: 

From left: Robert Kennedy, “Buddy” their dog, John F. Kennedy (at back), Eunice Kennedy, Jean Kennedy on her Dad’s lap, wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (who was expecting Edward “Ted” Kennedy), Patricia Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (at back), and Rosemary Kennedy.
(Photo by Richard Sears, on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

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Rev. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large of “America” magazine, best-selling author, popular speaker and retreat master, was born in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1960 to James and Eleanor Martin.
Enjoy Fr. Jim’s stories about faith, family, and saints in “My Life with the Saints,” one of my favorite books.

After a brief career in the business world, Jim entered the Society of Jesus in the summer of 1988. He was ordained to the priesthood eleven years later on June 12, 1999. Holy Orders were conferred by Jesuit Archbishop Lawrence Burke, SJ (1932-2010), then serving as Archbishop of his native Kingston, Jamaica, after earlier episcopal ministry as the first Archbishop of Nassau, Bahamas.

This family portrait was taken on Father Martin’s ordination day, June 12, 1999:
His Dad, James Martin, who passed away in 2001, beams with pride as he stands next to his newly ordained son, with daughter Carolyn and her baby Charles, wife Eleanor, and son-in-law Charles, Sr. (on left).

 (Photo courtesy of Rev. James Martin, SJ)

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Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was born Peter John Sheen on May 8, 1895 at the apartment above the family hardware store in El Paso, Illinois. He was the eldest of four sons of Newton Morris “Newt” Sheen and Delia Sheen, and was called Fulton, which was his mother’s maiden name. Baptized by Father Jeremiah H. Quinlan, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church, four days later as Peter John, the future bishop was usually called P. J. as a child, before being known exclusively by his mother’s maiden name. 

Fulton Sheen was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Peoria in 1919. An early radio and TV evangelist, he hosted “The Catholic Hour” on radio (1930-1950), followed by his Emmy Award-winning program “Life is Worth Living” 1951-1957). He served as Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951, and then as Bishop of Rochester from 1966 to 1969. His cause for canonization opened in 2002, with the title “Venerable” bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI in June of 2012.

Early 1930s photo of Mr. and Mrs. Sheen with their sons (from left): Joseph, Fulton, Aloysius, and Thomas  (Photo: Fulton J. Sheen Archives)


 

Can you name this famous father-son? They directed and starred in “The Way,” a film about the pilgrimage on “El Camino de Santiago.”  HINT: The father actually adopted the last name of the famous clerical televangelist whom I featured above.

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