Crucial to The Heights School’s mission to assist parents is providing avenues for parental formation as such. To this end, at the beginning of April, the school opened its doors to over one hundred and fifty fathers for a day-long Fatherhood Conference. This year’s focus was “Building a Relationship of Trust with Our Sons.”
The day began with Mass celebrated in the chapel, during which participants were inspired both by the readings of the day (“The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock,” read the Responsorial Psalm) and the homily, which spoke of the heroic virtue of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, the saintly father of three who was martyred for his conscientious objection to fighting for the Nazi party.
Following Mass, Headmaster Alvaro de Vicente led the way with his talk on Paternal Presence. In the talk, Mr. de Vicente spoke both of the importance of a father’s presence and of the different ways in which fathers can be present in family life. His thoughts on the topic revolved around four different modes of presence—physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual—and the evolving stages of presence. In the end, Alvaro encouraged fathers to behave as they would wish their sons to behave when they reach their own age. But when they fail, he also reminds them of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s words: “God doesn’t ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful.”
Following Mr. de Vicente’s talk, Assistant Headmaster Tom Royals offered a reflection on -paternal authority. Drawing on nearly forty years of professional and personal experience as a teacher at the school and as a father of eight children, Mr. Royal’s talk featured anecdotes full of paternal wit and practical wisdom.
Lower School Head Colin Gleason finished the first half of the day with a talk on Persistent Patience. Beginning with a nuanced discussion of anger and its role in the moral life, Gleason offered both general principles and practical strategies for fathers, demonstrating his ideas by walking through a case study of a common incidence in the home.
The morning’s talks were digested together with a barbecue lunch and hardy conversation, after which two veteran Heights fathers, Tom McCabe and Gary Hale, joined Director of Admission and the Forum Rich Moss on stage for a discussion of how freedom and high expectations mix well in parenting. The conversation continued into classrooms, as the participants broke into smaller groups for a friendly discussion of key takeaways from the talks.
The event was brought to completion with a Rosary in the courtyard, followed by a farewell happy hour.