On Being A Catholic Father

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6).

I remember reading this quote from Jesus long before I ever had children and feeling the weight of these words. Over the years I often wondered if I would be up to the challenge of being a good Catholic father. Would I truly be able to help my children believe in their hearts that “Jesus is Lord”? As I reflected on my own faith journey, I realized that while I have an amazing Catholic father who has loved me in a way that would make our Lord proud, my faith journey was catalyzed by a multitude of influences and experiences. My faith was built on the foundation provided by my father (and mother), but it was taken to the next level when I went away to college. My own experience has guided my view as a Catholic father, leading me to seek a community that would support my children in taking their own faith journey to the next level.

Enter St. Nicholas Church. Even before we lived here in the Bay Area, St. Nicholas Church was our home. We would visit often, spending time in a Church that I thought had certainly been taken from the fabled Camelot. And, when it came time to make the big move from the East Coast to the Bay Area, we only had one goal, to become a parishioner of St. Nicholas and have our children (if we would be so lucky) attend St. Nicholas School and be guided by Fr. John who we felt had become part of our family. And, we have been truly blessed to have it all work out. From Fr. John to Mrs. Popolizio to Ms. French and every single teacher who has touched our children’s lives, there has been a village of positivity and love for our family. And, for this, we are eternally grateful.

But, what about when a Catholic father needs his own inspiration and guidance? Where should he turn? That’s a question that was answered for me during a St. Nicholas Mass, my daughter Aria handed me a prayer card that she had found on the ground in the Church. On the front of the prayer card was a picture of St. Joseph holding Jesus and, on the back, a 2000-year-old prayer. It seemed unbelievable that this prayer card turned up out of nowhere, as there were no other such cards anywhere in the Church. But Aria said, “I know this is for you Daddy.” I have come to believe that never were truer words spoken. I share this prayer with you all now so that it may impact you as it has me.

“O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all of my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ,
our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.”

On this Father’s Day (and every day), may St. Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer, and Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, bless all of us as Catholic fathers. May we all strive to be the type of father that St. Joseph was to Jesus. And may our Lord and Savior continue to bless this remarkable community.

—Reflection by Nick Palazzo (father to Alexa (recent grad), Adrianna (7th), Aria (3rd) and Emma (TK)