To Our Fathers, With Love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” - John 3:16.

Our Heavenly Father is the quintessential example of the selflessness of fathers when He sacrificed His only son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for our salvation and the atonement of our sins. For Father’s Day, two Holy Family parishioners share with us their memories and experiences with their fathers.

James Bernard with his daughter, Joanna Isabel James

My father has been a constant source of love, support, encouragement and advice. I’ve learnt many valuable lessons from his countless analogies and pep talks, and we’ve engaged in playful banter and shared so many jokes between us; both undeniably hilarious and laughably bad. I grew up a daddy’s girl, and some of the best moments I’ve experienced have been by his side.

Work can be time-consuming and stressful, but my father always made sure to carve time out of his busy schedule to spend with me. When I was younger, that time would have been spent play-acting with my dolls in high-pitched voices, earning squeals of laughter from me, but as I grew older, we often spent that time talking and joking around.

He was there to witness every small step I took - from my first word to the first story I’d ever written. My father has always taken such pride in what I do. Never once has he expressed that he would rather have me be more ambitious than simply aspiring to be a writer. I vividly remember bringing him a few sheets of paper; my messy cursive scrawl inked into the margins.

Whether or not the story I’d written was actually worth the attention of any publisher or renowned critic, my father read every sentence with affectionate warmth in his eyes, letting me know afterward that I was his favourite writer. I know that without the constant reminder of my father to never settle for any less than I am capable of, I would have long since given up on my dreams to become a writer.

If I had to pick one of my favourite teachings from my father, it would be that life is way too short and unpredictable for us to spend it dwelling on emotions like anger, hatred, bitterness and resentment that draw us further away from the ones we love.

The late Samuel Monraj Chelliah with his daughter, Vincee Monraj

My dad was a strict man, he was always well dressed but surprisingly always with a smile too. All my childhood friends who met him loved him instantly. That annoyed me because I thought he was too strict with us, especially with my brother. I was his youngest and probably his favourite, with him giving me, and only me, a nickname which was ‘Chinni’ meaning cute or little one.

He never differentiated me from my brother, teaching the both of us the same things, especially about cars which were his passion! He taught me how to check the engine oil, the spark plug, to push start a car, etc. I knew more about cars than my husband did. He also taught me how to make a top and play it and how to make kite and fly it.

He was an active outdoorsy man, whom I was glad to follow to avoid the chores in the kitchen. His best gift to me was teaching me badminton. He would do a body smash and scold me for not returning it and believe it or not, I was able to take any smash after that. This didn’t make me a national player, but I won many titles in badminton tournaments during my working days.

I cannot recall a single day of him missing Sunday mass. Even when he was home bound, he insisted that the priest visit him once a month for communion. He was always ever ready to serve in the church. I do believe my passion to serve the church comes from watching him serve and the joy it brought him. He passed down his passion and faith to me, and I am grateful for it, as it now gives me great joy too.

My dad went to be with the Lord on May 13, 2019. I am assured that my dad lived a good life and was a good son, husband and definitely a good father. Thank you Appa and may you rest in peace and rise in glory!

Being a good father is hard work and a great responsibility, but there is immense wisdom and guidance to be found in the Scriptures. Here are just a few verses from the Bible that describe what it means to be a Christian father:

A child’s first teacher (Proverbs 22:6)
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Spends quality time with his children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Disciplines them with love (Proverbs 3:11-12)
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Forgives them and shows compassion (Luke 15:20)
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Shares his faith with his children (Psalm 78:4)
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.

May all fathers, uncles, grandfathers and godfathers be remembered and celebrated for their unique and selfless roles in their families!
Wishing one and all, a Happy Father’s Day and God bless!

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