By Kay Cozad
Photos can be found in the photo gallery.
FORT WAYNE — An action-packed three-day festival celebrating faith, family and fatherhood, core values of the Knight of Columbus who coordinated the festival, was held last weekend at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne.
The festival began Friday, Aug. 17, with a Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, with Knights of Columbus chaplains concelebrating. Following Mass, the festival was led to Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne by 150 Fourth Degree Knights in full regalia and a parade highlighted by a flower-draped statue of St. Joseph carried dramatically and reverently by four Franciscan Brothers Minor and followed by the Bishop Dwenger High School band and many of the faithful who attended the Mass.
“This festival is a celebration of faith, family and fatherhood,” said Bishop Rhoades in his homily at the opening Mass. “It is also a reminder of the values of faith, family and fatherhood and the need to live and defend these values in an increasingly secularized culture with strong currents of relativism, and an often distorted notion of freedom, which leads to destructive hedonism that exalts pleasure and egoism, neglecting the truth that leads to real happiness — the truth that sets us free — found in God and His holy will, ‘what is good and pleasing and perfect.’”
Radio personality and Catholic author Father Larry Richards of the Diocese of Erie, Pa., was the keynote speaker that drew a packed house at Saturday’s events, which began at 8 a.m. with a 5K run and pancake breakfast.
Father Richards inspired the families in attendance with a talk on using the word “family” as an acronym.
“F,” he began, is for “faith” and “forgiveness.”
“The greatest gift you give to your children, and to each other, is faith,” Father Richards told those who filled the Headwaters Pavilion. The best way to instill faith is through example. “You show them faith by loving them,” Father Richards said.
The “A” stands for affirmation. “We need to tell each other what’s good about them,” Father Richards said. He encouraged those in the audience to tell family members one affirming thing a day so people will long to come home — a place where they will be affirmed.
The “M” stands for “make memories.” He encouraged families to have dinner at home together and to laugh. “Dinner is a time to make memories,” Father Richards said.
The “I” stands for “intimacy.” He encouraged husbands and wives to sit together for just for a few minutes and ask, “How are you? How was your day?”
“If we don’t have intimacy with one another, then there is great loneliness,” Father Richards added.
“L” is for “love” “Love is what it’s all about,” Father Richards said.
“Jesus says all people know you belong to Me because you are people of love,” Father Richards emphasized, adding that Jesus said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. “We need to love, but that love must begin at home,” Father Richards said.
He instructed parents to tell their children: “You are beloved to me. I am pleased with you. I love you. I would give my life for you. That’s what we tell them, and then you have to give it to them.”
“Y” stands for “it’s all about ‘you,’” and selflessness. He encouraged the audience members to post “I am third” on their bathroom mirrors and examine their day each evening asking, “Did I commit one unselfish act today?”
Following Father Richards’ talk the festival events included nonprofit booths, food vendors, helicopter rides, rosary making with Bishop Dwenger high school students, and a raffle, as well as a combined choir performance by Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger high schools that showcased the inspirational music of Catholic composer David Kauffman and show tune solos. Bill Werling and his 5 Piece Band’s square dancing and western line dancing that drew both young and old highlighted the evening events.
Sunday’s events began at 11 a.m. with a K of C brunch, bingo and family games on the lawn. The Franciscan Brothers Minor not only conducted relay races for young and old but played conductor on the kiddie train that offered rides around the grounds. The Fort Wayne Area Community Band roused the crowd with their patriotic tunes, while five of the Franciscan brothers judged a pie-bake-off, netting three place winners and an auctioning of the winning pies.
Laurie Reynolds paid $60 for Samantha Schortgen’s first place blueberry-strawberry pie, commenting, “I know it was for good benefit.”
Later in the afternoon, following the beautifully executed Gregorian chant by the Smith family, Sunday’s keynote speaker, Franciscan Father David Mary Engo spoke powerfully on the fatherhood of St. Joseph and how faith, family and fatherhood is intertwined with a true understanding of God’s love.
“The loss of faith in God means a loss of understanding of love,” said Father Engo. “It affects families and fatherhood.” He encouraged the fathers in attendance to “protect your families through prayer. … A father’s job is to lead, lead well.”
Those in attendance were moved by the special blessing that Father Dave administered to close the faith and fun-filled weekend.
Fifteen area Knights of Columbus councils in the Fort Wayne area spearheaded the event.
Mark Weber and Tim Johnson contributed to this article.
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