June 13, 2023 // Diocese

For all the Fathers

During the month of June, we celebrate Father’s Day, when we honor all fathers. In honor of Father’s Day, we at Today’s Catholic asked our readers to share a memory about how their dad practiced his Catholic faith, how he taught them to be faithful, or why his Catholic faith was so important to them. We hope you enjoy these beautiful stories!

William Thomas

Grand Pap was my mentor as I grew up in a small home, built by the labor of my father’s hands on the far corner of Grand Pap’s farm. From the time I began to walk, I followed a path from our kitchen door up the hill to Grand Pap’s farmhouse and barn. I remember as a child that I couldn’t wait to see Grand Pap on a daily basis. He had a magnetism about him that kept drawing me back. He was a very prayerful man who attended daily Mass and received Holy Communion. Grandma Mary died when I was five years old and I have only faint recollections of her snapping off ends of green beans from Grand Pap’s Garden. She passed away during her sleep in her own bed at home during a three-foot snowstorm on Nov. 30, 1950. She was laid out in her own home for three days where many came to pay their respects. After her burial, I had Grand Pap’s undivided attention for the final six years of his life. Grand Pap taught me farming and the love of animals as there were dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, goats, and cows for milking on the farm. He labored long hours each day feeding the animals, milking cows, and cleaning the pens where they stayed when they were not grazing. Summer meant working in the vegetable gardens as well as the apple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum orchards. Grand Pap had a small grape vineyard as well, along with a beautiful flower garden of roses, peonies, and irises that reeked a heavenly aroma when picked and put into vases in his home. I loved working alongside Grand Pap, who always found time for me when I was around to pester him.

At Easter, Grand Pap always prepared cigar boxes of candy with marshmallow peeps for all 13 of his grandkids. At Christmas, he managed to have a stocking filled with fruit and candy for each of his grandchildren. As children, we idolized him and felt his undivided love for each of us. As we grew, he encouraged us spiritually as we sat each Sunday in the first two pews of St. Agnes Church in Bull Run, where everyone knew not to sit in these pews as they were reserved for the entire Thomas clan. Everyone in our parish knew and seemed to love Grand Pap, who never spoke poorly of anyone and was always offering a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He taught me the importance of being a servant and how to love my fellow man as well as how to pray for and respect the dead. St. Agnes Cemetery in Bull Run is filled with my ancestors, and each Memorial Day weekend, I went with Grand Pap to the Duquesne Nursery to buy flowers for the graves. We went from grave to grave where we would plant a flower and pray for their soul. This routine went on for years, and each time Grand Pap would tell stories of the life of the deceased family member for whom we were praying.

I became an altar server at Mass when I was nine years old, and in those days, we had to learn the Latin prayers and responses that were very difficult for me. I attended daily Mass with Grand Pap even on Saturdays when most young boys were either sleeping in our out causing trouble in the neighborhood. Grand Pap formed an image in my mind at a very young age of what a Catholic Christian man truly is. He was a pillar of strength and wisdom that I so idolized. I wanted to be just like him. Grand Pap died of lung cancer in April of 1956 at the age of 76, most likely from the cigars he smoked and the dust in the air from regularly cleaning five chicken coops. His death was devastating to me. At the age of 11, my hero and mentor was gone forever, but his memory still lingers on in my mind and heart. Today, I am the Paw Paw of five grandkids whom I love dearly. I hope that when they think about me, they feel the same love and respect that I have for my Grand Pap.”

— David C. Thomas

Paul Ueber

“My father, Paul Ueber, was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every night, there were exact times that he would pray for certain people and have them pray at that same time. For Jesus said if two or more are gathered in my name, there I am. Dad went to daily Mass and said the rosary daily. Our home was filled with statues and holy pictures. Every day in Lent, we gathered in the living room to pray the rosary together.

He showed me much about charity and alms giving. Dad was a dentist here in Fort Wayne. He had a large practice mostly due to the fact he charged so little. All the priests and sisters were free of charge. I remember a time my mother asked him to raise his prices, that we were having trouble making ends meet and his response was, ‘the Lord will provide.’ And somehow that always came true. The first ‘bill’ for the month to be paid would always be for the church. I remember him also saying, ‘I want to make a living not a killing.’ There were so many examples of his faith throughout my childhood. One that comes to mind recently was an old classmate of mine recalling at our high school reunion about the time her home flooded and who was at the door but their dentist with a huge pot of homemade chili. That was dad.

Fifteen years ago, my father passed from cancer. I was able to care for him at home. Sadly, I had drifted from the faith. Seeing the way he handled the pain from his illness, offering it up and not complaining, really stirred something in me. This is what it is all about. To love Jesus, God. To make it through the trials and to heaven.

Several weeks after dad passed, my brother John told me that he would have this recurring nightly dream at 3 a.m. of dad standing before the gates of heaven, being judged by some man to get in. The man was telling dad all the bad things he has done during his life and why he shouldn’t enter. At dad’s side was Mary advocating for him, saying ‘Yes, but he has done this…’ and so forth. Then dad would turn to my brother and say in the dream, ‘John, you got to help me.’ My brother would wake up and get up and pray the rosary. John said this went on for about two weeks straight. Finally, John said he spoke back to dad in the dream, ‘Hurry up and get in, I’m not getting any sleep.’ The next night, he saw dad in a dream and told him thanks, everything was all right.

I know that dad’s love and devotion to the Blessed Mother saved his soul. I know that it has turned mine around. Thank you, Lord, for my father.”

Karla Ueber

Tony Pesa

“My father practiced his Catholic faith in many ways, including making Sunday Mass his first priority. My dad had a stack of prayer cards from deceased friends and relatives that he prayed daily to secure their release from purgatory. Whether it was his health or financial issues, he was always certain that God would take care of him. He never complained about his many struggles but was an example of taking up our cross each day. Even as he was dying, he said his body was no longer working and he asked to see a priest, not a healthcare professional.”

— The Owens Family

Ralph H. Smith

“My Dad was an ‘Old World’ kind of guy born in 1899, yet he was a modern intellectual thinker, respected by all he met. Growing up on the east side of Fort Wayne, he started out as a member of St. Mary’s Parish and attended their grade school. Later, when St. John The Baptist opened, he and my mother, Sally, became members. Dad always believed that the ‘best Catholics’ went to early Mass and so for him that was a 6 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral, even though he would still go to church with my mother at St. John’s later in the day. That continued until I came around in 1948, and then he just went to one Mass each Sunday as a family. The 20th Century held many threats and challenges for families, but each were faced with perseverance, faith, and prayer. Dad and mom faced the Depression, which found dad unemployed for nearly a year. Then came along World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. Each of these were coped with by the family in prayer, led by my father. I know that starting in the Depression, the family said the rosary daily after dinner. That continued until he died in 1971. I hated it as a kid because it meant that I could not go out to play after dinner like the other kids in the neighborhood, at least until after rosary was over.

I’d suppose that the proof is in the pudding, as they say. All three of us kids were sent to Catholic grade schools and high schools. Sally (Ueber) went to Central Catholic and then St. Francis College. Shirley (Bertels) went to the convent high school at Mount Alverno and then to Loyola. I went to Bishop Luers and then Indiana University. It was the ‘70s’ after all. My dad got the bonus reward when my sister Shirley, at age 14, entered the convent of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to become a nun. Somewhere along the line, dad was given a poem on a card entitled ‘I’m the Daddy of a Nun.’ He loved that, considering it his greatest accomplishment. Sister Stephen Ann stayed faithful to that vocation for 21 years and left the sisterhood only after dad passed on. Although Shirly has passed on too, each of us kids remain faithful Catholics to this day. We all looked to our dad as our Guiding Light. That he was because he represented the Holy Spirit to us.”

— Steve Smith

George M. Tschida

“One great memory I have of my father is walking to and from Our Lady of Hungary Church in South Bend. My sister and I were always given a ‘second sermon.’ This is when dad shared life skills with us. We didn’t like it at the time but now know he had our undivided attention and shared his wisdom that I now appreciate.”

— Judy Tschida Burmeister

Donald Buchanan

“My dad, Donald ‘Buck’ Buchanan, was not raised a Catholic, but converted when he married my mom, Valeria. He chose St. Jude as his Confirmation Saint. Even as a very young child, I remember my family going to weekly Mass and we attended Catholic schools until we moved to Columbia City. Once we were in Columbia City and attended CCD classes at St. Paul of the Cross, we sometimes went to different Masses. My dad really liked our priest, Fr. Zenz, and he became an active member of the church because of him. When lay people were introduced as readers of the scripture during the Mass, dad was one of the first readers in our parish. He also was an active participant of the Men’s Retreat program for the diocese. I remember him kneeling at the end of the bed to say his nightly prayers.”

— Richard Buchanan

Tony Tippmann

“I think I was 19. I came to my dad one evening, venting to him about a tricky situation regarding friends. I was so upset and stressed. I will never forget him looking straight at me and saying, ‘So, did you pray about it?’ I said, ‘I did.’ He then said, ‘So, what is the problem?’ Point blank. He continued to ask, ‘Do you think this is something God can’t handle? If you prayed about it, you need to trust God that He will take care of it, and He will.’ He explained that when we pray to God for help, then go right on worrying about the issue (as if praying to Him wasn’t going to get us anywhere), that is not truly trusting in Him. I thought about this deeply. His faith in God was solid. He and my mom gave us rules which I now know were to protect our souls. More importantly, he explained to us ‘why’ he did. I realize how hard it must have been to give us some of these rules and guidance. Like there were times I thought he was being so unfair! Now I am grateful beyond measure that he did not just take the easy way out and say, ‘Whatever you want.’ Looking back, some of those things would have been toxic to my soul. He also gave us the tools to receive God’s graces that we so desperately needed throughout life’s struggles. He had us say the family rosary almost every night. He went to daily Mass, and every time, he’d ask if we’d like to go with him. We would maybe go here and there, but more often, had many reasons we couldn’t go. I now go to Mass every day and treasure it dearly. He would take accountability for his wrong-doings (which I know was not easy for him) and most Saturdays would go to confession (again encouraging us to go if we could). He could have justified, or ‘smoothed over’ his faults, but he didn’t. His example was so impactful! He died of cancer in October of 2007, and even through the suffering, we learned from him how offering our sufferings up to God can be so redemptive. He always taught us to offer our struggles and suffering up to God for the salvation of souls and the conversion of sinners. I thank you Lord for giving us a dad as wonderful as him!”

— Martha Cavacini

George Crowe

Our Dad, George Crowe, exemplifies a true Servant Leader. His love of God and neighbor and his strong faith has inspired and deepened not only our faith, but his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more than 500 youth from St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church. Prior to his retirement as Youth Minister, dad spent more than 30 years sharing his love of Christ with energy and enthusiasm, taking youth on trips to see Pope John Paul II and sleeping on church basement floors in Kentucky while on mission trips to serve those in need. He taught us family is much more than living under one roof. Through prayer, laughter, and building people up, dad makes everyone his family, with all Praise be to God.”

— Michael Rethlake

Marshall Didier

I owe much of my success in life to the lessons I learned from my parents. My father Marshall Didier was an amazing businessman and an incredible example of faithful leadership, and I miss the opportunity to seek his advice every day. I started working in our family business at a young age so I had an early opportunity to learn from the example he set of integrating his faith into how he conducted his business. He was adamant about keeping the Lord’s Day sacred and he fought against the modern temptation to keep his stores open on Sunday. Anyone in retail, especially those working in small businesses, know how hard you must work to stay in business, but his family knew he would be there with us at least one day of the week. He and Agnes, my mom, were married 48 years until her death. They raised 12 children to pray the rosary and practice the faith in our daily lives. Dad sang in the Cathedral choir for more than six decades, and many of his children followed the example that he set by singing in the choir as well or serving during church as altar servers or lectors. He taught us to treat everyone with respect and to see everyone through Jesus’s eyes. I am so thankful for his witness.”

— Tom Didier

Charles Foster

My dad, Charles Foster, was a devout Catholic, who passed along the faith, especially showing his family — my mother Eileen, my sister Cheryl, and me — his love for God, and for us, day by day, in ways large and small. He was also a moral man of the world. Early on, dad learned that it was important. perhaps even necessary, to have a sense of humor. And he shared that humor with us. Here is one episode. It was Christmastime (I was 8 or 9 years old), and our tree and crèche were up. Dad and I were alone in the house while Mom and Cheryl were out shopping. Then Dad got an idea, and he asked me to help him make a tiny, television set for the Nativity scene. And so, down to the basement we went. He found a very small wood block and tapped in four nails, partway, into the ‘bottom’ of it, for the legs. As for the screen, we were a bit stumped until we thought of my comic books, and one in particular that had the individual cartoon characters featured on the cover, each on his own small ‘TV screen.’ Then, using my surgical skills (honed from playing the “Operation” game), I removed the picture (Donald Duck, I think), pasted it on the wood block, drew in the volume and channel dials, and voilà … a TV set for the first Christmas! Now, our crèche had the usual set-up, with Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the stable, and the angel, shepherd, Three Kings, and most of the animals ‘outside.’ At first, we placed the TV set with just Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I don’t remember which one of us had the next thought — perhaps it was simultaneous inspiration — but we then gathered all of the figures, except for Jesus, to one side of the stable, ‘watching TV,’ with the Infant left alone on the other side. When the women folk returned, mom’s single-word reaction was ‘Charlie!’ Both dad and I were laughing, but we intuitively knew that enough was enough. The toy TV set was ‘retired,’ but everything was okay because we were pretty sure that mom and Cheryl privately enjoyed ‘their boys’ having their fun. Of course, this little humorous moment also had another message, which I now think was dad’s intention all along: Is Jesus getting lost in the age of television? And what about today, and the age of the internet and social media? The family that prays together, stays together. And the family that has a healthy, hearty sense of humor is a family that is especially blessed. Thank you, dad. I look forward to being reunited with you and mom and Cheryl in the next life. Until then, please pray for us. No joke.”

— George Foster

Donald Carpenter

“I was raised Methodist by two amazing Christian parents. They are the backbone of my belief in God and love of doing for those less fortunate. My parents taught us by example. There weren’t discussions about doing certain things. We children saw every day our parents living a life of prayer and doing everything they could to help and inspire those in need. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to help others like they did. We learned God first, mama second, then us children from actions — never words. Likewise, we never heard anyone referred to as someone from a different religious group or ethnic background. My parents had many friends of all faiths and ethnicities. They were just ‘friends.’ We were raised to honor God, parents, everyone! I became Catholic in my late 20s, something my parents supported, and I am trying to make them proud by doing good works. Mom and dad are my reason for being so close to God. Thank you, God, for blessing me with the most amazing parents you could find.”

— Linda Carpenter Berger

William Milliken

“I am writing this to show what an inspiration my dad had in my life growing up. My dad, William Milliken, showed me the path to become a Christian Catholic, to love our Heavenly Father, to honor God with all my heart, and thank God for His loving mother, our Blessed Mother Mary. Our dad was a convert. He converted when he married the love of his life, our mother, Julia, on July 17, 1943, at St. Monica Parish in Mishawka. Our dad became a faithful Christian Catholic. He prayed to God to save his wife and first-born child, a son. Our mother, a nurse, had an eclamptic pregnancy and became blind a few weeks before she had a C-Section to bring their son Bob into the world. Both were critical and Bob was Baptized, and our mother was given the Last Rites. The doctor said she would not have any more children. God blessed all three. Our dad fathered six children with our mother, two boys and four girls (two of which were twins. Bob is the oldest. I am the oldest girl named Mary, then came Bill, the twins followed three years later with Jean the oldest of the two and Janet the youngest of the two. Three years later came the last daughter, Beth Ann). Never underestimate the power of God. Dad loved his faith, making sure he set the example of Sunday Mass and keeping the Holy Days of Obligation, with Mass to start the day. He played a big part in our Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and timely visits to Confession. Dad prayed the rosary and held Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin close to his heart. He became intrigued with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dad would ask the priest he took instruction from about Our Lady. Dad began to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary asking for guidance from her Son. He learned that praying the rosary gave him graces and that started the daily rosary with my dad. We always said the rosary after supper during Lent.

Dad was also active in St. Monica Parish ushering every Sunday or Saturday evenings. He also was an usher at the Notre Dame football games. Dad made sure when the boys played sports, he was involved in their sports such as coaching basketball at St. Monica. Through his example and teaching during practices, he taught the boys to be proud of their Catholic upbringing on the court and show good sportsmanship whether you win or lose. Dad went to Mass every day during Lent when he wasn’t working early hours and went to Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings, taking all of us with him. Our dad inspired us to understand the importance of practicing our faith and gave us a spiritual path to follow. Dad gave the example to go to daily Mass during Lent. I continued following this practice every year until I started working. After a Catholic grade school education, he and mom sacrificed much to send us to a Catholic high school, two to St. Joseph High School and three to Marian High School. I finished two years at Mishawaka High School and my brother Bill went all four years at Mishawaka High School.

I am truly blessed by his example of his faith. His faith drew me close to Our Lady and helped me attend daily Mass during my later years of working and after retiring. This had become my daily morning ritual along with the rosary to this day. At St. Joseph Parish in Mishawaka, we all are blessed with daily 7 a.m. Mass, Confession after Mass every day and a Holy Hour following 7 a.m. Mass. I not only thank my dad for my spiritual Christian Catholic upbringing, but also my mother, who was very instrumental in my Catholic life.”

— Mary Dorbin

Ralph Stein

“My Dad and mom made sure we had everything we needed. They often went without so we could ‘have.’ We went to church every weekend and Holy Day. They also made sure we had a Catholic education. As a family, we went to church every Sunday and ate supper together every evening. We always prayed beforehand. Even when we were at the lake, we attended Mass as a family at a small Catholic church. As we went through some of our sacraments, my dad took pictures and even some home movies of us. My parents always worked together as a team. We spent our summers at the lake and dad would always go swimming with us. My twin brother Pat and I are the youngest of seven. My dad would get up with us in the middle of the night if we were sick or scared. He always heard us first. When I was 11, my sister was 21 and had gotten married and moved away. I was so used to sharing a room with her that I would get scared of the noises I heard when I was alone. I would open my parents’ bedroom door and ask if my dad was awake and talk with him, as he was a light sleeper. He would also calm my fears when I would hear the scurrying of my brother’s hamster in my room, whenever he had escaped his cage.

Health insurance was very important to him, and he made sure we had it. When we were born, he got us life insurance policies from The Catholic Order of Foresters. He built our lake cottage himself. One hour north of Fort Wayne, it had a cement floor, an attic, and two bedrooms, located on Big Turkey Lake. We had a wood burning stove, and he always kept the fire going to keep us warm.

He would always wear a dress hat to church, a big one that looked like a cowboy hat. Once, when I was too little to take Communion, dad went up to receive and left his hat on the pew. Thinking he needed his hat, I called after him. ‘Dad! You forgot your hat!’ After several times, he finally turned around and scolded me.

Our church had cement walls along the grass and I would always ask him to hold my hand as I walked along them. If I was not out playing when he got home from work, I would go down to the basement where he was washing up and talk with him. When he was done, I would ask him to help me jump up the stairs. He would hold me under my arms and help me jump up to the next step. As my sister was a little more independent, I was always ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.’ He always drove us wherever we needed to go. He built me a playhouse in our backyard and hung a chalk board for us to write on in the basement. On the weekend, he and my mom would can food together. On the way up to lake, dad would buy corn from a local farmer. The kids would clean it and mom would fix it for supper. Dad also used to build sandcastles with us. When I was little, we would play cards with him, and we always played croquet as a family. Dad would take me on boat rides too.

My dad worked on buildings around town as a welder. Due to working near asbestos, he contracted emphysema, and during the last four years of his life, he was on oxygen. During that time, my brother died in a car accident. My grandfather had purchased many plots in the Catholic Cemetery and my dad, mom, and brother are all buried there, alongside our other relatives. Our family attended Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne, where I still am a member. We attended school there, I was married there, and Dad’s funereal was held there.

He died on Palm Sunday, 1988, at Parkview Hospital. Around 3 a.m., they called over to St. Jude and the priest came. Mom apologized for waking him up during the middle of the night. I was able to tell my dad I loved him. I remember him especially this time of year as his birthday is around Father’s Day. He was good to my mom and his children, and because of that, we were good to our parents and to each other.”

— Patricia Latham

Roy Simon

My Dad, Roy Simon, was a great example for myself and my six siblings. He and my mom were longtime members of St. John The Baptist Church in Fort Wayne.  He was a convert joining the Catholic Church through the influence of his chaplain priest during WWII. He (and my mom) was devoted to the practice of our Catholic faith. Dad put us all through 12 years of Catholic education. He taught us all through his disciplined practice of his faith and led us in our faith by his example.

He rousted all of my siblings on Sunday mornings making sure that we as a family got to Mass on time. As children, he took us monthly to Saturday afternoon Confession. He was a devoted member of the Holy Name Society. He would commit to his regular turn for Eucharistic Adoration taking us to the Cathedral for 6 a.m. Sunday Mass followed by an hour of Adoration at the adjoining chapel. He was always active in service to our church. (He and my mom over several years chaired the annual fish fry at St. John’s. We were all recruited to help!) He was also a longtime volunteer in his retirement at the St. Vincent De Paul thrift store and was honored with their ‘Top Hat’ award for his service.

All of this being said, he was a faithful and loving father who instilled in all of us our dedication and service to our Catholic faith.”

— John Simon

Ken Castleman

“Our faithful Father, Ken Castleman, is spiritual in his Catholic faith, and we have shared memories of how he has taught us to be faithful.

Our dad practiced his Catholic faith by being the breadwinner for our family. He worked more than one job to put food on the table. Even though he worked nights, he was always up to take us to 7:30 a.m. Mass every Sunday as a family. Our dad’s Catholic faith is so important to him. He shares as a kid attending early morning Mass. He lives his life as a servant to others before himself, the true foundation of our Catholic faith. He continues to think of other people before himself after years and years of sacrifice and heartache. He made sure his six children attended 12 years of Catholic school. He finds time for God daily with his several rosaries a day and additional prayers all having a busy life. Our dad is closest to our Lord and Savior with all his suffering which makes him a better person while he finds comfort in his family and our Lord.

Growing up, when driving in the car, dad would join mom in leading us in prayer for safe travels or if traveling a long distance, he would assist mom in saying the rosary. To this day, dad can be found resting in his chair with the rosary in hand and still saying the rosary on his car rides.

Thank you for loving others before yourself. May He continue to show you the pathway to fulfillment and happiness. We love you so much and wish you the best day as we celebrate together this Father’s Day!”

— Melissa, Robert, Amy, Ann Marie, Dan, and Diana

Jerome Henry Sr.

Jerome Henry Sr. was a legendary social worker in our community. He was so proud of his tenure at Catholic Charities and was a role model for his faith. His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’”

— Jerome Henry Jr.

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