How to Be a Good Father

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Monday, 19 March 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and the universal church. He is the foster-father of Jesus and husband to the Virgin Mary. It would be appropriate for us to remember our own fathers this morning, both living and deceased. If your father is deceased, we pray that he finds comfort in knowing God face-to-face, and experiences everlasting peace in heaven; may you be aware that he is watching over you today. If your father is still alive, wish him a Happy St. Joseph’s Day. Tell him that you love him, in person, by skype or by phone. Try to do that in the next 15 hours, maybe over a shared zeppole for dessert tonight. Don’t wait… before it’s too late.

My own father is turning 90 years old this August. In his own quiet way, he taught me how to be a father. When I was growing up, he taught high school Spanish in Winnetka, Illinois. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, he was serving as my role model for my own teaching vocation, even though I swore I would never be a high school teacher during my teenage years. Your Father in heaven will surprise you sometimes, in his Divine Providence.


Anyways, together with my mom, he helped me develop a love for learning and dug deep into his pockets to let me attend my first-choice college (Northwestern University), which was more expensive than the state university that my parents attended in Champaign-Urbana. He exhibited great patience as he taught me how to drive a car with a stick-shift. He dragged me out of bed during the summers to play tennis at 6:00am every morning. And still to this day, he mails me weekly envelopes filled with practical advice on health, wealth, and what Pope Francis did last  week, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Catholic, the New York Times, plus every coupon you could imagine.


My father, John Martinez, taught me how to be a father. You really can’t buy a book or watch a video called, “How to be a good father.” If you believe there is such a magic-wand, you’re a fool! You have to watch and learn from fathers–your own, your grand-fathers, my father-in-law, any father worth his salt–often by trial and error–what I call experiential learning. And so as I reflect back on my own 5 children–Michael, Christina, Marianna, John and James–I’m proud of how they turned out (due mostly to the influence of my wife), and ask their pardon for any deficiencies or shortcomings I exhibit as their Dad.


However, the best part for me has been becoming a grandfather. I love watching my oldest son, Michael, raise his two young children–my grandson Zachary, 20 months old, and my grand-daughter, Elsie, who turns 6 months old on Palm Sunday. It’s a sign to me that I did okay as a dad, and that I gave my own son the greatest gift he could possibly ask for–the tools necessary to become a good Dad, himself.

Let us pray:

St. Joseph–you accepted God’s plan for you in a dream, that you should enter into marriage with the Virgin Mary, and raise lovingly the child Jesus, the Son of God, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. May you watch over all couples experiencing difficult pregnancies. Because you were attuned to Divine Providence, you whisked your child and wife away from Bethlehem, becoming refugee immigrants in Egypt, to protect them from the wrath of King Herod. St. Joseph–may you grant hope to immigrants today, who are escaping from terror and violence in their father-lands. And may you watch over all our fathers, both living and deceased. Watch over the young men in our student body. Guide and strengthen those who will marry and become fathers some day. May they imitate you St. Joseph, in the same way you cared for Jesus and Mary.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, PRAY FOR US.

St. Joseph, PRAY FOR US.

Live Jesus in our Hearts! FOREVER!

David Martinez—Religion Teacher