Generation to Generation

Father-Son Mass ’24 strengthens bonds and motivates seniors

The senior class’s fingers fidget nervously with their rings as Head of School Steve Straessle steps up to the podium. Their stomachs rumble; they know what’s coming next: an off-campus lunch with their dad. Mr. Straessle gives the final order, “… and listen.” 

The Father-Son Mass at Catholic High is a storied tradition, but a tradition that has changed over the years. “The Father-Son Mass has taken a variety of forms for decades. There was a Father-Son pancake breakfast with mass at one point, which eventually evolved into what it is today,” said Mr. Straessle. 

Today, Father-Son Mass is an all-school mass on All Saints’ Day with a special emphasis on the seniors and their dads. Fathers of seniors are invited to attend, and they have dedicated time (about two hours) after mass to take their son out to lunch. This year, Father Friend led the mass. He spoke about his intimidating first days at CHS and how his own father shepherded him into adulthood—encouraging, inspiring words that all students benefited from. 

The mass is the beginning. The real work begins when fathers and sons share thoughts and feelings over lunch. “We often see that the boys and their fathers often don’t communicate with each other as well during their high school years, so this is an opportunity for a father to counsel and listen to his son uniquely,” said Mr. Straessle. “We give the fathers the assignment to tell their sons what they were like in high school, what their aspirations were, and then ask their sons what their aspirations are, and what they want to be. Most importantly, we ask them to listen.”

For seniors, the Father-Son Mass carries emotional, spiritual, and even practical importance. “It symbolizes the serious talk you get to have with your dad,” said senior Rett Palecek. “I made my plan for the rest of the year at lunch. My dad told me how he decided what college to go to. That’s helpful because I’m currently trying to decide what college to attend. We also talked about what he was like in high school. It was informative to compare my life to his life at my age. It was a talk I will never forget.”

With the impending threat of “senioritis,” the special mass serves as an antidote to the loss of motivation seniors may face. “I think the mass provides a spark for the seniors for what comes next. That important foundational strength that they need not only to complete their senior year, but to use it as a launching pad for what comes next,” said Mr. Straessle.

Mr. Dodge distributes the Eucharist.
Seniors and their fathers meet in the gym lobby before lunch.

Andrew Alley
+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *