Exploring Saint Joseph

by Mary Ellen Vice

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Happy is the man who is 'Sonny' to his father and 'Daddy' to his sons. One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.

Our parents are our first and primary teachers. The vocation of marriage calls them to be parents, to raise and educate children in the light of faith. In this issue of Domestic-Church.Com we focus on fathers. We look towards Saint Joseph as a role model for fathers, and for making vocational choices,since these choices will form the way we live in service to God.

In this article, I will suggest some activities that help develop the relationship between father and children, and also give the children an understanding and appreciation of the role Dad plays in their lives.

Dad Stuff

Fun activities to do with Dad.

Design and build something together

All children enjoy building things. Some suggestions are:

  • A bird house
  • A bird feeder (my own dear Dad says that this is easier than a bird house)
  • A tree house
  • A play house
  • A play structure
  • A go-cart!
Plan a menu together

This is a great chance to find out what Dad likes to eat! Draw up the menu, go out and buy the ingredients together and then prepare the meal. Mom gets to rest while the rest of the family has fun making dinner. Bring out those barbeque tongs!

Play baseball

A rough and tumble game of baseball in the back yard or 'creature from the Black Lagoon' at the beach, gives Dads a chance to us that attribute that distinguishes him from Mom, his relatively greater size and strength, and make it fun.

Play a board game or card game with Dad.

Maybe the game could be Dad's choice. Perhaps he could teach a new game! Was 'Risk' his favorite as a boy? Does he know how to play chess?

Dad Stuff

Fun activities to do for and with Dad

Plan a treasure hunt

(For a story about treasure hunts, see Treasure That Doesn't Tarnish.) Perhaps the treasure could be something Dad really likes, for example, a coupon for ice cream, a small bottle of maple syrup, a box of peanut brittle or golf balls, a craft made by the children, a favorite magazine.

Play baseball as a family

If you don't have enough people for two teams, play a game of 'scrub'. You could also play street hockey, soccer or basketball. Physical activity is a great bonding element in families.

Interview your Dad (or granddad) about his childhood

(How many of us have wished that we had done this?) Prepare a list of questions in advance and use a cassette tape recorder to record the interview. This could be a real treasure in the coming years. Some sample questions might be:

  • Where was your favorite hiding place?
  • Did you have a tree fort?
  • What games did you like to play? (Top three)
  • Tell me what you remember about your early years in school.
  • Tell me about a school concert you were in
  • When you were a kid, what was your favorite candy? dessert?
  • Who were your best buddies in elementary school?
  • Did you have T.V. when you were a kid?
  • Who was your favorite hockey team, baseball team?
  • Did you have to take piano lessons? violin? guitar? Were you any good?
  • Can you tell me a story of when you were naughty and go into trouble?
  • What was your least favorite chore?
  • Did you get an allowance?
  • Tell me about your Dad.
Ask your Dad about his vocation

By talking to Dad or Grandpa, children can learn a great deal about making choices. Have an intergenerational discussion and include some of these questions;

  • How did you decide what your vocation would be?
  • How did you decide what line of work you would follow?
  • What did you have to do to get there?
  • How will I know what I am going to do?
  • What are some of my choices?
  • How will I get there? (University, community college, work site experience)
  • How did you know that Mom was the girl you were going to marry?
  • Did you ever consider becoming a priest?
  • Did you ever feel you were called to be a single person?
Dad Stuff

Language arts activities

Make a book about Dad

Use the information collected in the interviews to create a book about Dad. Draw pictures to illustrate the stories, or use photographs. A sample of Dad's handwriting would be a great addition.

Complete the sentence

Have the children complete that following sentence in as many ways as they can. Saint Joseph.... Some suggestions: was a hard worker, was a virtuous man, taught Jesus, was a loving father.

Older children could write a paragraph or a short composition about Saint Joseph's life and qualities.

All about My Dad

Children could then repeat the above exercise using My Dad … helps me with my homework, bakes good cookies, always takes out the garbage …

A poem

A poem about their Dad gives children a wonderful opportunity to reflect on their Dad and all his characteristics. A companion poem about Saint Joseph would help the children see the parallels between them.

Saint Joseph and Dad

Discuss with your siblings how Saint Joseph and Dad are alike. How are they not alike? Is Dad getting more and more like Saint Joseph?

A short scene.

Write and then act out a scene where Jesus tells Saint Joseph that he is no longer going to be a carpenter. He is going to begin traveling and preaching; doing His Heavenly Father's will.

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