Our society needs more good fathers as well as good fatherly priests, says Sr. Ann Shields.


Our society needs more good fathers as well as good fatherly priests, says Sr. Ann Shields.

October 6, 2014

OTTAWA – Sister Ann Shields, host of the popular radio program Food for the Journey, spoke on conversion of mind and heart at the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests' annual conference Sept. 27.

She opened with an anecdote of being storm-stayed in an airport and experiencing annoyance and frustration because she felt she had "important things to do."

An inner prompting from God made her recognize the need to repent. She prayed, "I'm sorry for my irritation. I'm sorry for thinking I'm more important than all the people in the universe."

Her peace restored, Shields headed for the bookstore, hoping to find a murder mystery to enjoy during the wait. She was the only person in the store except for a young man behind the cash register. He nodded at her, but did not smile.

Then, while she was examining the mystery section, the man came over and asked, "Pardon me, may I ask you a question?"

"Who is God?" he asked.

Shields knew she only had a few seconds to answer because she could already hear more people arriving at the store.

"God is your Father who is in heaven who loves you so much he gave you his only begotten Son, who died for you to save you from your sins," she said.

"If you are baptized you have the Holy Spirit to guide you so you can be with him forever."

"By God's mercy, I had the grace and the words to answer that question," she said. "How would you have answered that question?"

An understanding of the true fatherhood of God is something "so badly lacking in North America and many other parts of the world," and so is the presence of good fathers, including good fatherly priests, she said.


Society needs the stability, protection, encouragement and guidance that come from good fathers, she said. Those who have experienced absent or mean fathers are affected the rest of their lives.

Shields said she was blessed with a good father. She recounted how her mother, who organized the church Christmas party and played the organ and piano, had lined her up to recite a poem at the event.

As they drove there, her mother asked her seven-year-old daughter to practise reciting the poem, and she was so nervous she could not remember the lines.


Her father took her aside after they arrived and told her to look at the clock, and she would find him standing below it. He told her to recite the poem to him and she would "do just fine."

So, when the time came, she looked for the clock and standing in a pool of light below it, she saw her father and "recited the poem flawlessly."

At the age of seven she had learned a powerful lesson that has stuck with her ever since, and gave her a picture of God's fatherly love as well: "My father would not take me out of a difficult situation, but he would be with me in them."


"That incident broke my fear," she told the 250 conference participants. "I wouldn't be before you now if that hadn't happened."

"If you don't have a good earthly father, it's hard to trust a heavenly Father," she said. She has had so many people come to her weeping, saying, "I never knew my father, or my father was mean."