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Book Recommendations for Catholic Dads

From Wedgies to Feeding Frenzies : A Semi-Survival Guide for Parents of Teens by Tim Herrera - One recent morning, as my thirteen year old son slumped sleepily into the kitchen for breakfast, I took a good look at him and realized that I now have a “teenager” living in my house.  Up until this moment, I hadn’t really accepted the fact – although he’d reach the chronological age, he still seemed like my little boy.  Suddenly now, in the middle of his thirteenth year, I’m back to reading parenting manuals and seeking helpful advice in manner that I haven’t done since my youngest was in the throes of the terrible twos.  Read our complete Spotlight on this selection

White Water, Bears, Dry Flies And Other Ways God Speaks To Guys by Randall Cirner - Author Randall Cirner looks at life's ordinary moments as opportunities for divine encounter. Within the context of 52 frequently humorous vignettes, Cirner encourages readers to look for God in their own day to day lives, and to tune our ears to listen to spiritual truths. Each of the book's chapters contains a story from Cirner's own life, an insightful reflection, a specific action item and a relevant scripture passage.  Click here to read my complete Spotlight on this selection.

In The Beginning...There Were No Diapers: Laughing and Learning In The First Years Of Fatherhood by Tim Bete - For years now, I've been a huge fan of Tim Bete's writing through the format of his weekly column and now I'm thrilled to own my personal copy of Tim's new book! Tim has a sense of humor I can enjoy as a parent, and also share with my growing sons. Nothing gets past this guy...the details of day to day life are examined from a perspective of fun, enjoyment and sometimes downright silliness, which is as it should be! Click here to read my complete Spotlight on this selection

The Maccabees – Forgotten Heroes of Israel from Requiem Press - This is an epic tale of war, heroism, treachery, and tragedy. It is from a time when God and religion were the center of existence for all men and women. This is a story of a woman and the strength she gave her seven sons. It is the story of an old man who realized manhood and wisdom meet in old age. It is the story of a man and his five sons who left everything and sacrificed their lives to restore God’s laws. But mostly it is a tale of the power of faith and prayer – of God’s hand in man’s work. The story of the family known as the Maccabees took place in the 2nd century before the birth of Christ, when the children of Israel were being persecuted by the Gentiles. Out of one family rose up a father and his five sons to lead the Jews to victory over the persecutors and to restore the Temple that had been profaned by them. One of the Maccabees brothers, Judas, was surnamed Machebeus – that is, the hammer – and thus the family takes on his name – as God’s Hammer against the enemies of His people. This work is adapted from the 1st and 2nd book of Machabees of the Douay-Rheims version of the Holy Bible, with minor editorial changes for clarity.

Mornings With Fulton Sheen: 120 Holy Hour Readings compiled by Beverly Coney Heirich

Catholic Dad Stories and Columns

Archived Columns and Stories:

That One Special Teacher Defines the Nature of a School

by John Jantsch

I'm sitting at the pool on one of summer's last blistering days trying to
pretend to read a book when I overhear two young mothers discussing the
various perplexing school decisions they were already engaged in for their
as of yet bipedal children.

"I just don't know how you can tell which school is better than another.
I've looked at test scores, school rankings and teaching philosophies but
I'm just not sure," I overheard.

As they went on to discuss this issue I began to think to myself. How do I
know my kids are at the right place? What did I use to measure? What would I
tell these moms if they asked my advice?

I mean they write books about picking the right school and I hadn't read any
of them.

All I could think of was something terribly unscientific like..."it's just a
gut feeling." But these women wanted data. They would never be satisfied
with something as squishy as I was prepared to offer.

I went back to my book and they went on their way and then finally it hit
me. I know how I know that my kids are at the right school. It's the
teachers and more specifically it's this one teacher.

All great schools have that one teacher. Really, all great schools have a
bunch of great teachers, but there is always one who for so many reasons
shapes the spirit of the entire school. If you've had that teacher, you know
exactly what I am talking about. Find that teacher at a school you are
looking into and you can rest assured the school is on the right track.

You know the teacher, the one who has been at it so long they are beginning
to teach children of former students yet their teaching is as fresh as the
day they started. The teacher who can present even the most complex material
in a way that anyone can get it and maybe even accidentally enjoy getting
it. The teacher who demands more of you than you might otherwise demand of

Everyone deserves to have that teacher at least once in his or her life...I
know I did.

My young one's go to St. Peter's Catholic School and I think that teacher at
St. Peter's is Bob Jacobsen. Bob has been a 7th and 8th grade science
teacher at St. Peter's for as long as anyone can remember and hundreds of
students have benefited from his commitment to teaching.

Sure I'm biased but ask any high school science teacher around the city and
they will tell you that they can spot a St. Peter's kid in their science
class from a mile away.

The material that Mr. Jacobsen asks his students to master haunts some of
his former students to this day. I believe, however, that his willingness to
push kids comes from an absolute certainty on his part that his students are
capable of achieving anything that he asks of them.

I don't know that my older girls always appreciated it, but I don't think
that any teacher before or since has believed in them so thoroughly. More
than one student has graduated from St. Peter's one B shy of straight A's
and proud of it.

Ask a current student what they think of his class and they will tell you
that they hate it. Ask a former student and they will tell you it was the
best class they ever had. I don't know how that transformation occurs I just
know that with great teachers it always does.

The supreme compliment for a teacher (although at times I doubt they
appreciate it) is the percentage of students who can mimic that teacher's
more lovable characteristics. In this regard Bob Jacobsen has no equal.

In addition to teaching the various arteries essential to the function of
the human heart, Bob Jacobsen teaches about commitment.

If I never see another Science Fair board again it will be too soon. The
things that he asks the kids to fix are so minor; I mean what does he expect
it to be perfect. Yes, I think that he does.

Go the St. Peter's gym during basketball season and you will find him
working with 5th - 8th grade boys on one of the finer points of grade school
basketball. What you will also find is a pack of former students willing to
come, put on a tie on game day and help share what they learned or maybe
just hang around with Coach Jacobsen.

St. Peter's is a great school for many reasons and Bob Jacobsen is not the
only great teacher that teaches there, but more than anything else I thinks
he represents many of the things that are great about any teacher or any
school for that matter.

To my two young moms at the pool, as you go about searching for the right
school for your young ones, collect the data, call around, do your research
but know that in the end schools are about people. People like Bob Jacobsen,
people like you, vibrant children and dedicated teachers all thrown together
sometimes desperately trying to figure out what works.

I don't know that you can measure that with anything that might be
considered tangible. So my advice is that you walk right up to the principal
of a school you are considering and ask them if they have a Bob Jacobsen on
staff. If they can answer yes to that then you've probably found a great

John Jantsch is a free lance writer, business owner and father of four
girls. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri and can be reached at 816-561-3931
or [email protected]