Fathers are guardians of the family and Church

Fathers are guardians of the family and Church

  • June 22, 2011

TORONTO - Lukasz Petrykowski is a Catholic apologist and lawyer who worries about the type of world his two boys will face when someday they become husbands and fathers.

Being a dad in the 21st century is like fighting a cultural battle against the gradual feminization of men in society, he says. He believes fatherhood is at a crossroads that threatens families as we know them today.

Petrykowski calls this a crisis of fatherhood. It stems from a gender debate about whether gender is merely “social construction” or is a God-given biological reality. Radical, feminist thinking suggests it is the former, a notion Petrykowski refutes.

He doesn’t subscribe to what he calls the “metrosexual myth.” The so-called metrosexual man is concerned with fashion and appearance, and incorporates a feminine nature to his masculinity which can include wearing makeup, nail polish and other beauty adornments previously only seen on women. Petrykowski and other Catholic dads say a way to address this crisis is through their Catholic faith and by holding steadfast to the traditional notion of fathers and husbands as guardians of the family and the Church.

“The Christian vocation of fatherhood is inimical to the prevailing winds of secular and liberal society which posit that man can imagine himself to be anything that he likes as opposed to recognizing that he is actually made in the image and likeness of God,” said Petrykowski, a former Toronto chapter president of the Catholic Civil Rights League.

He says staying focused on the vocational aspect of fatherhood is imperative.

Petrykowski’s view is in stark contrast to a controversial book by Kay S. Hymowitz titled Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. It argues that in modern society husbands and fathers are optional and qualities such as fortitude, stoicism, courage and fidelity “are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.”

One way some Catholic dads deal with this “crisis of fatherhood” is to develop support groups and become more educated about their faith.

Jason Gennaro, a 36-year old father of five, leads such a group at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Aurora, north of Toronto. He says fathers’ groups are important because they support fathers in their primary vocation.

“The role of a Catholic father is to shepherd the people and the souls entrusted to him,” he explained.

According to Gennaro, the promotion of the idea of a gender-neutral or gender-shifting mentality in movies, TV shows and textbooks negatively affects children.

“Neglecting the fact that a boy has to become a man and to neglect the fact that a girl should become a woman” will confuse children and leave them with a “lost sense of identity,” he said.

Gennaro also blogs for “Catholic Dads,” a website for Catholic fathers. In his blog, Gennaro writes about how the Pope’s teachings can be applied in a practical way to the home, including on how to teach children to pray.

Building friendships and sharing common experiences in a faith setting helps Catholic fathers become stronger in their faith and their role as husbands and fathers, he said.

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