Read: Letters from the heart | Three daughters celebrate Fathers’ Day, June 16, 2024

This Sunday, June 16, is Father's Day. A good father is an icon of our heavenly Father. As Pope Saint John Paul II said in his 1981 Apostolic Exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio, "the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance".

To mark this year's Fathers' Day, we asked several daughters from across the Diocese of Lansing to write a letter from the heart to their Catholic dad. They are, pictured left to right, Sister Mary Margaret OP of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor with her father, Patrick; Grace Porter of Holy Family Parish in Ovid with her father, Ross; and Dr. Theresa Marshall, Principal of Saint John Vianney School in Flint with her father, Richard. Here is what they had to say: 


When I pray at night, I hear your voice. Some of my earliest memories are of being tucked into bed and having you sit next to me, praying carefully before kissing me goodnight and telling me you loved me. I am blessed to have a father like you.

I remember in grade school how you challenged me and the boys to count how many times Father Fred said “Amen” or “Jesus” or “Father” during Mass. Whoever got the closest would win an extra donut. I also remember how you taught me to say the rosary, to slow down, and to really meditate on each mystery and its meaning. I am blessed to have a father like you.

In high school, we had conversations about our faith in relation to theology, apologetics, history, or politics. Your love has helped me grow into a woman well-informed in her faith and in love with the Lord. I am blessed to have a father like you.

The formation of faith in a child takes dedicated intention. It requires one to invest time in conversations about the faith, to be willing to hear and answer questions, and to encourage the curiosity to explore the faith. You have never backed down from that challenge. You ensured that my heart was good soil for the Sower so my faith might bear fruit a hundredfold.

Although I often thought that the best present you could ever give me would be a pony, I know now that the gift of my faith is the treasure hidden in the field. You would give everything to pass that treasure on to your children. I am blessed to have a father like you.

Your love has shown me how great a love there is in the Lord. I can call God my Father and know his infinite love inspires yours. I am blessed to have a father like you.

Dad, I can see the treasure in the field that you shared with me. I can taste the Lord on my tongue as you taught me. I can smell frankincense at Mass and think of the oil on your hands. I can feel the love of a father who will always welcome me home, and I will always hear your voice in my prayers.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Grace Porter
Holy Family, Ovid

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day! I thank God for you today! You have always been a great example to me, especially by the witness of your prayer life and by your love. I always wanted to marry a man just like you: who could play any song on the piano, who could make his children laugh like crazy, who could tell beautiful stories, and for whom God was number one. With high standards like that, it is no wonder that I ended up marrying the only Man better!

I am most grateful to you for teaching me the Catholic faith. It was always clear that God came first in your life, and I saw how your rosary wore holes in your pockets (which you then fixed with duct tape!) When I was ten, I noticed that you actually liked going to Mass since you would go on weekdays when you could. When I told you what drudgery Mass seemed, you said, “If you keep going every Sunday, I promise that someday you, too, will want to go.” I hung onto that promise for years and kept going to Mass until I finally desired it.

Your witness of frequent confession had an impact on us. One day when I was young, we made a big mess in the living room, and you yelled at us. However, you then gathered us to apologize and tell us that even dads need to go to confession. I was shocked but struck by your humility.

Although you worked two jobs for most of my childhood, you somehow managed to be home for dinner, making it the most delightful part of the day. We couldn’t wait to hear your amazing stories or to play 20 Questions to find out whom you had met at the grocery store that day.

I can see that love for your family continues with your grandchildren: The man so tired he falls asleep as soon as he sits down can pitch whiffle balls to grandchildren for an hour or play 18 games of Candyland in a row!

Thank you, Dad, for all of your love for me and the Church! I will be offering my Mass, rosary, and sacrifices on Father’s Day for you and your intentions.

Love, Sr. Mary Margaret, O.P.
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Hi Daddy,

This is Theresa, but you knew that. You are always attentive to us kids. You did so much and persevered to feed, shelter, and love 15 children. And you lived so loyally to us and Mom, too.

I remember when you would give us girls Valentine's Day cards. I thought you only sent them to me! We girls were chatting one day and saying how kind and thoughtful you are and great at loving us one at a time. I tried to boast and said, “Well, Daddy always sends me a Valentine's Day card each year, even though I am grown up and on my own.” I came to find out you sent cards for Valentine's Day to all your girls once we moved out of the house. We laughed so hard, delighted that you did that.

You were perfect about dispelling my fears and doubts. You know I was an anxious little girl. You took me out to practice before my first driving test. We were walking toward the house, you stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, “Theresa, do not be afraid. OK?” Jesus often uses that moment in my heart to speak to me when fears arise.

I wonder if God told you I needed that confidence builder because I was so sensitive and withdrawn. I remember when our school had the father-daughter dance. You and Mom came, and she said, “Your dad does not like to dance, and you are the only daughter he was happy to take to the dance.” You danced with me, and I am still grateful that you died to yourself for me.

You helped me see that Jesus is kind, gentle, and compassionate like you. This has helped me to trust God and allow him to love me. I saw you do many selfless, good things, but I know you did many more things for me that I’ll never know about, just like Jesus. I will always remember two pieces of advice you gave me. Always leave a place better than you found it, you said, and A person should be a better human being after meeting you.

Thank you for all your wisdom and hugs. I love you a bunch, Dad.

Theresa Marshall
Principal, Saint John Vianney School, Flint