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Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Fraser

'Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned'

On Divine Mercy Sunday, a Son Finds Healing through His Dad

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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.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Bohemian Mike - Apr 8, 2011

Lovely story. I would like to see Catholic priests being married if they want, as in the Orthodox and Anglican churches etc. Women priests too. This will solve the priest shortage problems and the other shocking church problems.
God bless you all.

Michele - Sep 16, 2010

Hi Jude - This young man is working a construction job to support his family while he attends semiary school. Often folks go to a secular graduate school while supporting their famites. Many times, a higher education can lead to can lead to better jobs. Perhaps Thomas will use that degree to teach. Additionally, deacons are not priests and can be married. They do not celebrate mass, like priets, but they can assist a priest during mass. Only a priest has the authority to change the bread and wine into the body of Christ. Thomas' father only became a priest after his wife died, which is allowed because he made the decision not to remarry and remain celibate.

ordy - May 24, 2010

i am inspired. i also spend most of my time in the school campus. i feel the need to change my life

Liz - Mar 25, 2010

A beautiful story. Thanks to those who have shed light on the difference in roles between priests and deacons. Thomas, please know that just yesterday I was listening to our local catholic radio station and heard an incredibly inspiring gospel message from a deacon. What really made his message so powerful was that he is a father and was teaching about living the faith at home, with our spouse and children.

Married deacons are a true blessing to the Church as they can give us such deep insight into living out our faith as parents, wives and husbands.

ps: what a wonderful example you are setting for your children - you love God so much that you are providing for your family and studying to serve Him as a deacon at the same time. You're giving your kids a first-hand example of faith, commitment, dedication and hard work.

God bless you and all your family, Thomas.

ann - Oct 4, 2009

Thank you for your story. I needed to hear this today

Rosemary - Mar 30, 2009

I think it is two seperate issues maybe? The son is becoming a deacon only, he will not be able to "offer Mass" only assist, and he cannot hear confessions, he will be able to perform marriages and baptisms though. His Father, who is a widower, did become a priest, and does offer Mass and hear confessions. :)

pat farrell - Sep 21, 2008

What a wonderful story, God said it is never too late, and his earthly father
should be so proud of his son, a fine young man. We have all sinned, but have we all confessed.

Queta - Jun 27, 2008

I too am very touched by this story, like Cary, I am a prodigal daughter trying to come back into the church, I unfortonally have a previous marriage that through the church that lasted only 3 months, at the time I did not about annulment, and this was 28 years ago, I been going to church, but feel like an outsider all the time and even more unconfortable when at communion time, I am trying to apply for annulment but the priest that I spoke with does not believe "my story". So therefore I am very glad that this young man had someone to guide and help him, if most of the priest were that way, then the catholic church would have more people attend the services.

Devoted Catholic - Jun 24, 2008

As for others clearing up the mis-understanding, I thought the same,but there is no need to be rude when clarifing.I did not think it was permissable if a catholic man can become a priest if widowed either. Some catholics strong into thier faith believe that one day a catholic man can enter the priesthood while still married. I hope that never comes true, because I strongly believe that a true priest cannot give themselves to Jesus when one can be distracted by family life. But I recall when women were forbidden to be on the alter! I pray for an increase in holy vocations everyday in the rosary.God's will be done.

cary - june16,2008 - Jun 16, 2008

This story sounds similar to me. Only I'm a prodigal daughter and I'm so very excited to be home in the Catholic church.
I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with EWTN and am dearly blessed!!!!

daughter of Mercy - Jun 7, 2008

We must all pray for the "grace" of mercy and understanding. God is true love.

Ann - Jun 2, 2008

Let's get this straight, since the discussion has been going on for over a year! Holy Orders has three ranks: bishop, priest, deacon. A deacon is an assistant who helps the bishop with tasks as assigned, perhaps teaching religion, helping a priest run a parish, organizing, etc. A deacon does NOT administer the Sacraments, except Baptism and witnessing marriage. He may give homilies (no layperson may). It's a distinct role, not a "step" to becoming a priest. A married man cannot become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, of course, there is nothing new here (with the rare exceptions about converts, etc, but typically not). A married man may become a deacon, but an unmarried deacon may not marry once he's ordained. Sound confusing? Maybe it is, but this is the scoop, and the Church has not changed anything. The young man studying to be a Deacon could never be ordained a priest...unless he is widowed and follows in his father's footsteps!

Andres - May 28, 2008

inspiring story of courage amidst a world of chaos, I my self have gone through the darkness many times throughout my life, but the prayers of my parents kept me hanging on to my faith deep inside, and of course by the intercession of our lady I have rediscovered The Christ and his Church.God Bless all of you and may hte peace of Crhist give you all the strenght to endure till the end!

Andrea - May 26, 2008

Thomas, thank you for sharing your faith story. I admire your courage and humility and think you're setting an excellent example for your family and others.
+God bless!+

Elizabeth - May 26, 2008

What a beautiful, inspiring story about a family's love of God. It gives me hope for my little family and proves God answers prayer! It is wonderful that a widowed man loved God so much that he took on the role of a priest after losing his wife. It also is wonderful to see a young married man pursue becoming a deacon. They are both profound examples of hearing and answering God's call. Thank you for sharing your story and please pray for all prodigal children that they will find their way home.

Michael - May 7, 2008

I am inspired by this story. I have also been personally affected by Thomas Fraser. I count it as a blessing to know him. I pray for reconciliation with my father every day. As far as Jude and Deacon's responses, READ the story. Thomas is pursuing the deaconate, which being married is looked upon favorably because it shows that the man can take care/shepherd his own household first. As a priest once told me, if you won't be a good father then you won't be a good priest. Let us pray, Peace.

Deacon - Mar 11, 2008

The sttory of forgivness is beautiful butI am like the first responder. I can understand the father becoming a pries because his wife had died but the son is still married. I as a Deacon cannot remarry if my wife die. To my knowledge Cannon Law does a married person to become a priest unless he was a minster and married in another faith.

Ann T. - Feb 29, 2008

What courage, humility and faith this young man has shown; what great faith and love shown by his father. To think how much more love and mercy our Heavenly Father has for each of us -- unfathomable!!!!!

Mary - Apr 18, 2007

Your sharing just made me cry. I will remember your humility when I next go to confession. I know I don't think of the impact my sins have on those around me. May God bless you and your father in your vocation.Mary

jundee - Apr 16, 2007

i was a seminarian almost half of my life. it was hard life. i had issues about sexuality that was hard to face as well. my dad is a devotee to the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy. I know he prays for me for all his nine children. I probably had sowed great seed of vocation in my family. Now I have a brother who is a priest and s younger sister who is a nun.....in rome, i had a classmate who was wealthy, wife died, daughter become professional and he ended ordained a Barnabite Priest in Barcelona Spain.

Dianne - Apr 13, 2007

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 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.

Jude I believe you misread the article. Thomas is studying to become a deacon. His widowed father, became a priest.

Cynthia - Mar 28, 2007

Oh how very beautiful!

George - Mar 21, 2007

In response to Jude - Mar 20, 2007. There are many married men offering Mass having come from other faith. In our diocese, I'm not sure if there are any married priest, but one man whose wife died, became a priest....and thus, I beleive that is what happened in the story that Jude is commenting on.

As far as being shocked to hear that someone is going to the seminary when he has a family to take care of...

Today we ordain married men to the permanent deaconate and where each study is determined by the diocese. And if you note, the young man continues to work. How is it any different for any person persuing a higher degree by attending night school?

Bea - Mar 20, 2007

This is such a lovely story. How nice to have a father that's a Priest. That's a blessing.

catholic family - Mar 20, 2007

how beautiful a vocation father/deacon. God is always working in and through the family. Peace to your family, Tom Fraser.

jude - Mar 20, 2007

from when on did the catholic church allow married men to offer mass????i'm quite surprised/shocked to hear that someone is going to the seminary when he has a family to take care of???!!