Enjoy a thought-provoking and inspiring interview with Tyler Rowley, author of Because of Our Fathers: Twenty-Three Catholics Tell How Their Fathers Led Them to Christ.
– What was the impetus for you to write this book?
I heard Fr. Gerald Murray tell a story about his father on the radio. He was seven years old and his father was going to work one morning, but he realized that his father was going to Mass before work and that he did this every day. He asked his father why he would go to Mass every day when they only had to go on Sundays. His father replied that he loved receiving the Eucharist and being with Jesus every day. This was a sort of turning point in the young boy’s life that ultimately led him to the priesthood. When I heard that story I thought of an email my priest once sent me. It was a study about the generational transmission of faith from parents to their children. The numbers were staggering. They showed that a father has an overwhelming influence over whether or not his children will practice the family’s religion. With these two things in my mind (Fr. Murray’s story and this study), I knew there must be many more powerful stories out there that demonstrate the positive influences of Catholic fathers.
– How did you find the contributors?
I simply thought of different people in my life who I saw as committed and serious Catholics and called them to ask about their fathers and see if they wanted to write an essay for the book. The whole thesis of the book was sort of proven true in these conversations because almost everyone I thought of did in fact have a relevant story of their fathers. And because their fathers were so instrumental in their lives, most were happy to honor them by providing essays for the book.
– How did your own experience as a father impact the message you hope to get across?
Being a father makes you aware of the power of fatherhood. When my priest sent me that email years ago, I found the study interesting, but didn’t think much more of it. When I became a father I had to come to terms with the fact that I’m now mainly responsible for my children’s knowledge and love of God. That’s both a blessing and a serious responsibility. Being a father is what made me passionate about this topic and ultimately led me to write and compile the book.
– How has it been received by those who have read it?
Amazon reviews look great. People are telling me it’s a great read that’s hard to put down. But who knows, maybe they’re just being nice.
I had a mother email me recently and say she did everything she could to raise her two boys in the Faith, including Catholic school. But her husband rolled his eyes and mocked the Faith when it came up in conversation around the house. Both of her sons have fallen away. She bought the book to hopefully get into their hands so they can see how much of an impact a father has on the spiritual life of a child. The Church needs to consider the enormous amount of time, money and resources that go into educating our youth. If they go home to a father who is not committed to the Faith, all of the efforts to evangelize that child often fall on deaf ears. We live in a period when we need to also catechize the parents of our children.
– What do you hope that a reader will gain from reading this book?
Ultimately, I hope the book will help grow the Catholic Church which is the ark of salvation. As I say in the book: evangelize fathers, evangelize the world. So many parents pray for their children to return to the Catholic Church, and that’s a beautiful prayer, but we need to figure out how to prevent them from leaving in the first place. The lifelong witness of a good Catholic father is the best way to do that. I think already-committed Catholic men and women will need to put this book in the hands of young men as encouragement, but also a warning that they are the persons most responsible for the eternal salvation of their children.
– What is your ultimate message?
I believe Catholicism to be the fullness of all truth. I simply ask Catholic men to make a decision on whether or not they believe that. If they don’t believe it, then it shouldn’t matter to them that they will let the Faith of their ancestors fade away from their children and grandchildren. But if they do believe in Catholicism, or if they are not sure, then they need to know that the way they live the Faith will determine whether or not Catholicism lives or dies with their children. In the book I ask Catholic men to have a conversation with their great-great-great grandfathers and explain to them why they were the ones that didn’t pass on the Faith. If you don’t have a good answer to that question, you have some thinking and reading to do. Be a man. Get to work.