Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Fraser
'Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned'
On Divine Mercy Sunday, a Son Finds Healing through His Dad
Like father, like son.
Thomas Fraser grew up in a strong Catholic family that said the Rosary daily. He attended Catholic grade school. His father was a Trappist monk, then a deacon before becoming a priest following the death of his wife, and he has a brother who's a priest.
Thomas also won the Morality Award in his senor year at Monroe Catholic Central High School in Monroe, Mich.
But his is a story of conversion, one that calls to mind Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32).
As often happens, Thomas' trouble began when he went away to college and his faith became lukewarm.
"On campus there was a concentration on material things that were opposite of a life in faith," he says. "I fell into that [trap]. Many sins and many years away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation had left my soul dead."
After all those years away, the young man had "a strong inspiration to make confession" to his father (Fr. Dan Fraser, assistant pastor at St. Patrick's Church in the Archdiocese of Toledo, Ohio). This inspiration came to Thomas on a recent Divine Mercy Sunday.
"I loathed the thought of going to confession to my dad. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I knew the Holy Spirit was leading me in that direction," Thomas says. "I didn't give my dad advance notice but simply showed up. With the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes as a guide, I told Jesus, through my earthly father, the sins I had committed."
Two breaking hearts then took over.
"I poured out my sins," Thomas says. "My dad's face fell as I recounted them. At one point, my dad looked down at the floor and said, 'I failed.' I felt crushed, for I realized the sins I had committed had hurt not just myself but my family, friends, neighbors, and most especially, God. I wept when I thought how deeply I had offended God."
Then Thomas owned up to his sins.
"I told my dad it was I who had failed but saying my confession on Divine Mercy Sunday provided hope," Thomas says. "After absolution and penance, I felt relief and healing."
Today, Thomas sees his father regularly and says, "Dad's rejoicing now. We both believe in the power of prayer. Dad prays every day for his children and offers Mass for us. That same power of prayer changed his heart."
The "prodigal son" had come home, forgiven by the overjoyed father.
Thomas is now enrolled in Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Mich. He's going for a master's degree in theology in preparation for becoming a deacon. He studies by night and by day works road construction jobs to support his family: wife, Brandie, and his children, Haley Marie, 10; Sierra, 4; and Alexandra, 3. He reads daily to his family from the Diary of Saint Faustina.
"Divine Mercy is a gift to all people," Thomas says. "Mercy was an aspect of God I didn't appreciate until I confessed to my dad on Divine Mercy Sunday. God's mercy raised me back from the dead into a new life of grace."
Love father, love son.