Do you have a role model?

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    • #629
      Michael Hernon

      We just had Father’s Day and I hope you were honored and celebrated by your children. We had a great day. I also honored and thanked my father. He did the best he could but his alcoholism led to my parents’ divorce and to a lot of holes in my formation as a man growing up. For many years I thought that he received this curse from his father who came over from Ireland. I assumed wrong. It started with my father’s choices and it took him many years for him to struggle to be sober. He has been sober for 30 or so years.

      As a teenager I began to follow down the same path as my father, seeking an escape from the dysfunctions of my house. I remember like it was yesterday that moment as a teenager that I came to my senses and realized my actions led only in one direction –to death. By God’s grace I made a choice to take a different road. I did not know what it meant to be a man, or what family life was supposed to be but I knew what I experienced wasn’t all there was. So, I began looking for men and for real families. I had to look pretty hard but I found a few examples. None were perfect but they were perfect for me. In many ways I still seek mentors and role models. Do you have any role models in your life?

      If so, who have been your role models to be a man, husband, or father? What do you admire about them? What experiences with them left an impression on you and why?

    • #633
      Adam Stanislawski

      When I was young, I would have answered this question with Hulk Hogan, Bill Cosby, and Patch Adams. With his mantra of “eat your vitamins and say your prayers”, Hulk Hogan inspired me to want to build a strong body, and what young kid wouldn’t want to be the behemoth of Hulk Hogan! Ignoring what we now know about the sins of his personal life, the character of Bill Cosby introduced me to finding the laughter in life, even at difficult moments, and to cultivating an attitude of levity and lightheartedness, which has stayed with me in my relationships. Patch Adams, both the man whom I had a chance to meet in college and the character portrayed by Robin Williams, built on this by his example of using laughter to help treat his patients. His method, more than the other two, has stayed with me, first in how I teach my students with disabilities, and also in how I use playfulness in my relationships with my children and even my wife! All of these men are far from perfect, but this was the goodness in them that left a mark on me as a child. And as a product of a K-8 Catholic school where I had NO male teachers, where else would I look?

      As an adult, I’ve developed a greater appreciation and affection for my father that I did not have as a child. My father was always present, even if he watched TV too often or drank too much at times. It’s through these faults, though, that I decided to shut the screen off and use moderation in all things. God’s grace is sufficient even through our weaknesses! More positively, my father is a carpenter and would always take me on jobs with him to help teach me his trade. He would also always give in to our petitions to play catch when we were young, and he set an example of saying the Rosary or Chaplet of Divine Mercy that has been an image which I often recall. As I write this, I’m also remembering his dutifulness and tenderness in caring for his dying mother when we visited her in the hospital or nursing home. All of these things I did not “see” when I was young, but as I’ve grown older, I have recalled them and come to appreciate that in him, I have an example of presence, resourcefulness, craftiness, prayer, tenderness, and duty.

      My best friend’s Dad, Louis, has also been a man who I admire for his generosity, hospitality, amiability, and ability to show interest in others through his selfless conversations. He’s the kind of man that enjoys trying to strike up a conversation with someone in the elevator! Having known him for over 20 years, these traits have helped to shape me. More important than these though, are his devotion to his wife and their united prayer life. In both he and his wife I have seen a strong example of a marital love that submits to one another and unites in prayer.

      I can’t end this without mentioning another Louis, St. Louis Martin, who, though I never knew physically, have come to know spiritually. He is one who has truly encouraged me toward a greater spirit of gentleness with my children, courage in suffering, hope in prayer, and purity in heart. The book The Father of the Little Flower: Louis Martin by Celine Martin has been a gift for my fatherhood. I hope my own daughters will remember me as fondly as St. Louis Martin’s write of him!

      So, for me, there was no “one person” who shaped me. I guess God gave me many men, only some that I knew, and all with their faults, that have left a mark of grace upon me and have inspired me to be like the Man of men.

    • #640
      Leandro Dasilva

      I have a similar relationship with male role models as Adam’s. I grew up being a huge pro-wrestling fan (still am), and when I was a kid I looked up to the Ultimate Warrior. He was tough, cool, had charisma. As I grew up, I realized he had his many faults and wasn’t a good role model at all. My father is and always has been a quiet, calm, good and loving man. Now that I am a father (of five children) I look back and remember how consistent my father was, how patient he was with me and my brother. I was a knucklehead growing up, getting into trouble at school, but my father was always there and kept me in check.

      Now, as a father, I continue to look up to my dad, and also look up to St. Louis Martin and St. Joseph. St. Therese played a special part in bringing my wife and I together. My wife and I travelled to Lisieux after we were married. In the backyard of St. Therese’s home, there is a beautiful statue of her sitting next to her father as she pleaded with him to allow her to become a nun. St. Therese always described her father as a loving, gentle father. I want to be that for my children, always.

    • #682
      Jonathan Slowik

      Growing up, I was blessed to have an excellent role model in my father. He was a tireless worker, but also somehow ever-present in the lives of my sister and myself. When I was very little, my mother had finished her Master’s degree in engineering and was finding many great job opportunities but he was miserable in his job. Together they decided that he would quit and stay at home while he slowly developed his own business (a small engineering design firm). When we were a little older, he moved the business out of the house, and we became after-school latchkey kids (which was much more common back then in the early 90’s), but he still managed to coach ALL of my sports teams. With both my sister and I, he was tough and firm, but also affectionate (our family is really big on hugs), and we rarely felt like we lacked attention from either of our parents. Although we do not talk about feelings a lot, he has always made sure that we know that he loves us and is proud of us, and I think that being sure of his support has enabled us to be confident enough to take necessary risks in life.

      Still, of course, there are things that I wish he would have done differently, but that just helps me figure out what sort of additional things I should include when it comes to parenting my own children. Neither my sister nor I can remember ever witnessing my parents really argue, but that also meant I never witnessed them resolve any serious disagreements. They had relationship and communication styles that worked for their personalities that would never work for my wife and I. Combined with my wife being raised in a single parent home, we have had to work hard to find other resources to help with our own communication issues and conflict resolution. Growing up, my family attended mass every Sunday, but other than CCD and bedtime prayer, we did not do much else related to the Church. Looking back, I wish I had stronger faith formation from a variety of sources, including my parents. Still, I’m sure at least having both parents attending mass with us helped keep me in the Church.

      As for other role models, my grandfather grew up in Richeyville, PA, so he was a big fan of the Stillers and Pahrts (Steelers and Pirates). He talked a lot about the glory days of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, and for some reason the stories about the greatest arm in baseball history (Clemente) throwing runners out at home from the outfield wall really resonated with me, especially as I learned about his life (and death) outside of baseball. He was a great humanitarian, who died mid-career due to a plane crash as he was trying to help deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. While he is already a hall-of-famer whose number is retired with the Pirates, there have also been campaigns to retire his number across the full league (as a pioneer and inspiration for Latino players), and even campaigns for potential canonization (as a devout Catholic man who lived out his faith through his words and actions). Even though Clemente died well before I was born, his story served as an inspiration to try to be the best human (and Catholic) that I could be.

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