As I begin to compose this, I am sitting in the surgery waiting room at St. Charles Hospital after just kissing my daughter Ivana goodbye as she went into surgery.

Two thoughts came into my mind: fatherhood means sometimes making choices, and putting those you love dearly in the hands of professionals who are God’s helping and gifted hands here on Earth.

Today, Friday, Ivana has surgery and Kyle graduates from grammar school.

How I wish I could split myself in two but that is not possible. So, one of the characteristics of being a father is making choices. I so wanted to see Kyle walk down that aisle, after learning how to walk after 10 years, and being a successful recipient of a kidney transplant almost four years ago. Thank God for technology!

I can probably be most effective about my experiences of being a father by telling you my story.  Next week it will be 36 years since I married my childhood sweetheart, Barbara. Together we have 23 children. six biological children and 17 adopted special needs children. But we never make any distinction between the two. They are all Mongillos.

I love being a Dad. I never imagined that I would be a father to this number, but if I had to do it again, I would do it all again the same way.

My dad was a traditional dad. He was the breadwinner and mom was the nurturer.  I am completely the opposite of that. I love being a part of the everyday lives of my children. I love sharing in their triumphs and always support them — and sometimes have to get them back on their feet when the chips are down.

I always try to see the good and positive in each one of them. I also strive to give them wings so they can, too, become better moms and dads.

And, soon becoming a grandpa for the sixth time, is a gift.

Both Barbara and I try to plant a seed in each one of them. And we are blessed to see the fruit of these seeds in their actions and words. Being a dad is a true gift from God. There are not enough words to describe this role.

Being successful in my career was important, but far less important than being a good father.

God has been good to me and blessed me.  He has helped us in our time of need. When three of our children were called home to God, He gave us, and continues to give us, the strength to cope with loss.

So, as we set aside this special day to honor dads, I wish all the dads blessings today and every day.

This column was originally published at, run by Deacon Marty McIndoe, a Roman Catholic deacon who has been assigned to St. Francis de Sales parish in Patchogue since his ordination in 1980. 

Top Photo: Deacon Bob and Barbara Mongillo and their family. (courtesy photo)