Father’s Day is the time to pause, honour and reflect on the great men that have inspired and motivated us throughout our lives. When I stop and reflect about my inspirations, I cannot go further than my Nonno—my maternal grandfather—and my father. Both Sicilian migrant fisherman, hard workers, and master professionals.
When I think about what they taught me, it was the drive to succeed in life. I am in awe of what they achieved in this land of opportunity. They sacrificed so much for their children to receive the best possible education, having sent their children to Sydney Catholic Schools.
My father was fortunate to have received a primary education, whereas my Nonno was not formally educated. Education was always a priority for Nonno and dad, they saw the value in education, particularly Catholic education, and wanted their children to have the opportunities to learn that they never had.
Faith and spirituality were very important to them. They taught the family the importance to assist those less fortunate in the community, as well as having a fruitful prayer life. I am eternally grateful for them teaching me the faith and supporting my own spiritual development.
I often get asked by relatives and close friends, what was the toughest job that you ever did? Was it teaching in Southwestern Sydney high schools, being a NSW parliamentarian or professional fishing with your grandfather and father?
All these jobs had challenging moments, but the toughest job I have ever had is being a dad.
Before the advent of the internet and social media parenting was challenging enough. Modern societal expectations and social media to some extents have placed an extra layer of complexity to fatherhood.
Despite all the hurdles and bumps on the parenting journey fatherhood by far has been the most rewarding job I have ever had.
My wife Melissa and I have four beautiful children. They are gifts from God and created in his image.
As earthly beings our children are not perfect, then again as a father I am not perfect either. When I contemplate about fatherhood, I frequently refer to the fatherhood of St Joseph, another inspiration to me.
If I am ever having difficulties as a parent and I think my life is tough, I pause and reflect on what life must have been like for St Joseph.
Imagine being tasked with the responsibility of caring for, protecting, and raising God’s only son.
This is a job that no other man in the history of the universe could ever had undertaken to the level that St Joseph did.
St Joseph was the model husband and father. From the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, St Joseph willing took on the responsibility that God had entrusted to him.
He protected our heavenly mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, from harm and provided Jesus with the loving environment all children deserve.
It is only fitting that St Jospeh is patron of the universal church, families, fathers, expectant mothers, travellers, immigrants amongst other things.
St Joseph is venerated and celebrated in the wider Catholic family in so many ways today. Many cultures have the tradition of naming a son Joseph or a daughter Josephine in his honour.
Alike churches, schools, tertiary institutions, religious organisations, and associations are named in his honour.
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods both had deep devotions to Saint Joseph and together named the order of religious they co-founded and established, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
St Joseph has always had a special place in the heart of my Sicilian family. He is the patron saint and protector of Spadafora, Sicily—my Nonno’s hometown.
So much of an influence was St Joseph to Nonno that he named his Sydney Harbour prawn trawler, “San Giuseppe” during its construction in Berry’s Bay, Sydney in 1954.
The legacy of Nonno and St Joseph is ever present in Iron Cove, Lilyfield to this very day as a retired professional fishing vessel.
This Father’s Day may we all pay tribute to the great men that inspire, lead, and protect families today. May we also offer up our prayer intentions to those fathers that are no longer with us, may they be resting in peace knowing that their legacy will continue. St Joseph, Pray for Us.