The celebration of Father’s Day is an event that goes much further than the giving of gifts and cards. It is a reminder of the transcendental act that the father of the family plays.

 “To be a father is a full-time job and a commitment for life, which begins right at the moment when a human being is created, who will inherit 50 percent of the physical and mental characteristics from him,” said Ralph Johnson, a family therapist practicing in Ventura County.

The therapist sustains that while we have very responsible and loving fathers, there are also those who err in believing that it’s enough to work and give orders, and forget to be more present in their offspring.

Studies indicate that the most emotionally stable children are those who count on the support and care of both the father and the mother, Johnson added.

“Many men have been educated to believe that housework and the upbringing of children are feminine duties, and don’t realize that nowadays women also go out to work. This very passive male role within his own home hurts the family, because the wife is overly charged with responsibilities and in turn, the quality of the care that they can offer their children diminishes,” he said.

“Besides, boys and girls learn a mistaken model of behavior. Boys are raised believing that they were born to be tended to, and girls believe that the woman’s role is to serve without protesting,” Johnson added.

According to the family therapist, many fathers allow their work commitments to prevent them from participating in activities with their daughters and sons, and miss the opportunity to feel the satisfaction that mothers experience by doing it. He also says that mothers need to let go of some of their responsibilities and must help their husbands find ways to assume their just part in the upbringing.

Taking advantage of the celebration of Father’s Day, the nonprofit organization Illuman Socal — an evangelizing program that seeks to promote spirituality among men — has developed a symbolic event that they have titled “The Wise Men’s Journey.”

 “It focuses on the part of the father within the family, the society and within himself,” said Giovanni Pérez, coordinator of catechist formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and who, along with Father Jim Clark, are in charge of the leadership and coordination of the event that will take place on June 17 at Griffith Park.

“This is going to be an opportunity for participants to improve in all personal areas, by way of their internal transformation. We recognize that the world does not change unless we change. And those of us who are fathers, have to recognize internally where we need to grow, where we are failing and where we are doing the right thing. This event will help us examine ourselves so we can return to the family in a different way,” added Pérez.

Through talks, rites and prayer, the event will explore the meaning of the Three Magi’s journey in search of the Child Jesus, who offered very revealing gifts. It will also explore the reach of that occasion with the intent of improving the lives of the participants.

“Even though we are far from the feast of the Epiphany, which is celebrated on Jan. 6 (the feast of the Three Kings), we are taking advantage of this month of June to note that those men from the Orient looking for ‘the new birth’ are a symbol, and we can apply that experience to our lives. A new birth means a new beginning, a transformation, a new order for our lives,” said Pérez. And he added that the search of the Magi set off the “old birth” which is Herod, “who symbolizes what is negative in a man; the hunger for power and money; narcissism.

“These wise men came from the Orient where the sun rises, and each sunrise is a new day, an opportunity. We are going to focus on this, and also on the gifts they brought to the Child Jesus: gold, incense and myrrh.”

Pérez explained that gold points to the fact that “we must understand our dignity by being children of God, children of the King, and because of that we must treat each other with the most profound respect.

He added that incense implies “that we are sacred, and as God’s children we try to search for spirituality.”

The other gift, myrrh — which was used to embalm the dead — “signifies that in bringing the gift of death, we recognize our limitations and imperfections. As Christians we believe that death is not the end, but rather, it is our last transformation,” said Pérez.

The Griffith Park event will mix group discussion with self-reflection.

“Scripture tells us that after the Magi gave the gifts to the Child Jesus, the angel told them to return by a different route. This is also explored at the event,” he said. “After we encounter God we must return by a different route, changed, different. For that reason, during this event we’ll be able to do a self-evaluation and see where we need to change.

“For example,” Pérez continued, “sometimes as fathers, culture and society tell us that we have a right to have our house cleaned, to have our meals cooked, etc. Then, ‘returning by a different route’ means how I am going to change that perception … perhaps by taking part in housework for the benefit of my family.”

Adult males are invited to participate in this event as a special Father’s Day gift.

Ideal event for fathers

What: The Wise Men’s Journey. Adult males are invited to participate in an enriching experience of self-discovery to improve as individuals and fathers.
When: June 17 from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Where: Mineral Wells Picnic Area at Griffith Park
For more information and to make a reservation: (714) 454-1573 or [email protected] or call Giovanni Pérez: (213) 840-8718.

Profile of a good father
According to Ralph Johnson, family therapist, a good father is a man who:

› Cares for the family and cooperates in the care, education and formation of his daughters and sons.

› Shows his feelings and constantly tells his offspring and wife how much he loves them.

› Recognizes when he makes mistakes and knows how to ask for forgiveness.

› Does not constantly scold and give orders, but explains and dialogues. This effort will allow his children to think of him as a friend and will respect him and have confidence in him.

› Does not make promises that he cannot keep.

› Treats his family with the same cordiality he uses with his coworkers, bosses or friends.

› Does not insult his children nor call them names.

› Does not replace his failure to dedicate sufficient time and attention to his family with material objects.

› Supports his wife and children in the search for study opportunities and progress.

› Along with his partner, he forges his daughters’ and sons’ moral bases and together they establish a true upbringing team.

› Is attentive to his children’s performance in school, as well as to their health, nutrition, talents and friendships.

› Has the strength to maintain his family, united and in harmony.