Father's Day celebrates fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Father's Day, celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June, was inspired from the formation of Mother's Day.
In the early 1900's, Mother's Day observances began growing across the United States. The federal government had not yet formally recognized the holiday, but many states had adopted the third Sunday in May as a special celebration day honoring mothers. It was during a Mother's Day church service on June 20, 1909, that Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the thought of creating a special holiday to honor fathers as well.
At the age of 16, Sonora's mother died while giving birth to her sixth child. Single parenthood was no easy task back then, but Mr. Smart did the best with what he could. Because of the love given to her by her father, Sonoma Smart Dodd believed that her father deserved a special day to honor him just like mothers had in Mother's Day.
In 1909, Sonoma Smart Dodd suggested to the local YMCA and Ministerial Alliance that her father's birthday — June 5 — be chosen as a celebration for Father's Day. However, they wanted more time to prepare, so June 19 was selected instead.
Because of Sonora's efforts, the first Father's Day was celebrated in the State of Washington on June 19, 1910, and quickly spread to other states. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father's Day as the third Sunday in June of that year, and Congress officially recognized Father's Day in 1956 with the passage of a joint resolution.
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father's Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon permanently established the observance of the third Sunday in June as Father's Day in the United States.
Sonora Smart Dodd lived to see her celebration be officially recognized, as she died in 1978 at the age of 96.
Prayers for Fathers
Here is a prayer that families can pray together to honor the father of their home.
God our Father,
in your wisdom and love you made all things.
Bless our father.
Let the example of his faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, his family,
may honor him always
with a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Source: A Brief History of Father's Day
Prayer Excerpted from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers by United States Council of Catholic Bishops. Copyright © 2012 by United States Council of Catholic Bishops