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shutterstock_father leading son climbing wall

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Fathers, never doubt your importance of your example in the lives of your children, especially when it comes to instilling the faith.

A significant study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astounding facts regarding the importance of a father’s faith in the generational transmission of faith and religious values.[1]

The study concluded that “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

  • If the father is non-practicing and the mother regularly attends church, only 2 percent of their children will become regular churchgoers.
  • If the father attends irregularly and the mother attends church regularly, only 3 percent of their children will become regular churchgoers.
  • If both father and mother attend church regularly, 33 percent of their children will become regular churchgoers.

Amazingly, if the mother attends church irregularly or is non-practicing, the father’s commitment to the faith has an even greater effect on their children becoming regular churchgoers.

  • If the father attends regularly but the mother irregularly, 38 percent of their children become regular churchgoers.
  • If the father attends regularly but the mother is non-practicing, 44 percent of their children become regular churchgoers.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix in his Apostolic Exhortation Complete My Joy, speaks to the important mission of fathers in the family…

Husbands and fathers, you too have an irreplaceable mission. There is a security and stability that only you can give your family. This will only bless your family to the extent that you fulfill your role as provider, protector and spiritual leader.

In a society that degrades and even negates the importance of fathers in the raising of children, fathers have an indispensable role in forming their children in the practice of the faith. It is by the example of a humble, loving, and self-giving father that children will learn to be solid contributors to a just and moral society. Satan knows fathers are critical in instilling faith in their children and that is why fatherhood is under attack. If Satan can take out the father he also can take out the children.

…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

St. John Paul II said “The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family.”[2] Dads, be the man that God called you to be, the spiritual leader of your family. You, in partnership with your wife, are the primary evangelizers of your children. In this role,

…the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love…we must say that the essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love…the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride.[3]

Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!

We will be true to thee till death. [4]

[1] Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner, The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland, by of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel; study appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States, edited by Werner Haug and others,” (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, January 2000).

[2] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, §75, internet: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_19811122_familiaris-consortio.html, November 22, 1982; (accessed June 14, 2019).

[3] Ibid., §17.

[4] Frederick William Faber, Faith of our Fathers, Catholic hymn, 1849, internet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_of_Our_Fathers_(hymn), (accessed June 14, 2019).