A Father's Day Message from Bishop James Ruggieri

On Sunday, June 16, we celebrate Father’s Day in the United States. As the title of the day states, it’s a day to honor our fathers. Recognizing that the day takes on different meanings for people because of their different situations and circumstances, I would simply like to share some reflections from my life experience. 

I have shared publicly that my late father was and still is a tremendously important person to me. His life and his virtues are still reference points to which I return. My father taught me many things. Among those, I would like to highlight three: the value of hard work, the importance of trying to live a balanced life, and the necessity of faith. 

My father, to support his family, at one time was working three jobs: two part-time jobs and one full-time job. I know that today many people are working multiple jobs to meet expenses. I hear of the challenges of inflation and the ordinary cost of living, so I am not boasting. I can testify that witnessing my father being willing to make the sacrifice of hard work made an impression on me. It also helped me to grow in appreciation for what he and my mother were providing for us already. 

In addition to working hard, my dad was an avid runner. He loved to jog in his time after work at the local YMCA. I know it helped him to deal with the stress of supporting a family and juggling the various responsibilities that his work required of him. I have found that in general it is hard to balance the various demands of life. Commitments to things like regular exercise, making time for friends and family, reading, praying, and studying require discipline. However, a balanced or well-integrated life is usually a happier life. 

Along with the importance of hard work and balance, my father taught me about the value of faith, particularly, the value of my Catholic-Christian faith. My father and mother baptized me and raised me a Catholic. They made sure that I received the essentials of the Catholic faith: religious education formation, the sacraments of initiation, and a good foundation in Catholic moral virtues and principles. My parents were believers who attended Mass faithfully. 

One example that embodies my father’s lived faith and its resulting virtue of charity is when, one evening, a man had run out of gas in front of our house.  The man rang our doorbell as dusk was settling in. My father did not hesitate to get the gas we had for the lawnmower to give to him so he could start his car. I can remember as a child watching this and thinking, why is my father doing this? Why is he helping this stranger? Later, I came to understand, from the parable of the Good Samaritan, that helping one in need is what a neighbor does. Faith in humble action.

So, as I recall with gratitude the life and influence of my father of happy memory, I pray that each of us can give thanks on Father’s Day for a father figure in our lives. God bless you.  Happy Father’s Day.


two people standing near a covered bridge
Bishop Ruggieri with his father, the late John Ruggieri, Jr.