Just for Dads – March 2023

by Ward Williams
Executive director, Vineyard Family Services


Kenedy County, Texas, is a 1,200-square-mile county with a population of 350 and 108 times more cattle than people. It is home to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate prayer and retreat center, Oblate La Parra Center. This retreat is sequestered in a quiet, peaceful, isolated location that provides an ideal environment to pray and think. During my recent time spent there, I read about St. Benedict, a popular figure in the Catholic church. In fact, 16 Popes have used the name of Benedict as their Papal name. Benedict was born in the late 5th century in Italy, where he grew tired of the moral decay of his surroundings and opted to instead live in a cave. While living there, he experienced a significant religious encounter. He basically became an expert on starting, spreading, and teaching monks to have highly functioning monasteries. He developed a written guidance for every aspect of a monk’s life, including how to use correction in ways to restore relationships and not only for punishment. 

The ability to find quiet often gives us the ability to hear things that God may be whispering for you and your family. It seems that the generation who used time-outs as a form of correction has become so busy that it doesn’t have time for deep thoughts on how they want to live a well-led life. I have heard many times in my years involved with the church that people don’t like rules; but I am starting to firmly believe people have a strong desire to know if they are doing things the right way. The Rev. Michael Jarrett of Trinity Mission wrote a book with his interpretation of St Benedict Rules for modern-day people. Some of these “new” rules include loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind; acting differently than the world’s way; relieving the poor and sick; not giving way to anger; keeping our future death daily before our eyes; and never losing hope in God’s mercy. I think these would be wonderful family rules for all of us to live by. 

When is the last time you got away to really ponder what you want to pass down—your hopes and values—to the next generation? We must seek to times in the everyday and mundane where we unplug, pray, find beauty, and rest in the simple things. If we are not careful to teach a way and lifestyle of retreat, chaos as a rule might be what we pass down to our families.

Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at ward@vfsdads.com.


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