By Jim Gabriele

A few weeks back, I had the privilege of joining over 300 men at the Malvern Retreat House to hear a wonderful talk by Sean Dalton, a director at FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Dalton travels the country bringing the truth of Catholic teaching to college students and is a sought-after speaker on the important role fathers play in the lives of their children.

Dalton’s faith journey began with an injury on the high school football field in Cornhusker country, where he felt his worth was solely determined by his performance on the gridiron. While rehabilitating his knee at a local college and preparing to walk on the team at the University of Nebraska, Dalton found the opportunity to deepen his relationship with God in a religion class and as a professor’s assistant.

It was here Dalton heard the call to campus ministry and he hasn’t looked back.

While delivering the message of the Gospel on campuses throughout the country, Dalton often meets students who are deprived of moral values because they have no father figures in their lives.

His message was simple. There is a danger in not forming our children in the Catholic faith with integrity, honor and duty. It is critical to pass on values to our children, and that begins with a strong faith. To that end, you can’t give what you don’t have. When it comes to faith and unconditional love, you have to have them in order to instill them in others.

As a father of five, ages 2-12, the bottom line for Dalton was clear: The most important decision we make as fathers and husbands is to choose Christ and pass that on to our families.

There are many challenges to becoming a better father, but few places to actually learn how to do it. Things like work, money or pleasure can get in the way of life, and in the way of being a good father. There are so many distractions that men need access to more tools to help them become better fathers.

This is why men from local parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, in partnership with the Regnum Christi movement, have launched the Fatherhood & Leadership Initiative. Our goal is to help men get to know their faith better in order to pass it on to the next generation, and to provide tools, information and a community of common purpose to enable men of character to become better fathers and role models in their families.

The initiative will help fathers develop their children emotionally, spiritually and socially through:

* Formation: providing information and learning on values that are critical to successful fatherhood and leadership

* Participation: activities for fathers and sons or daughters that are structured around core values

* Activation: regular service projects that will give fathers and sons or daughters the opportunity to put these values into practice

We hope fathers throughout the Archdiocese will participate in this program to enhance their fatherly role by focusing on the core values: faith, responsibility, integrity, fortitude, prudence, loyalty and action. You can learn more at

Jim Gabriele is founder of the Fatherhood & Leadership Initiative. He can be reached at