Father-son breakfast encourages mentorship

Posted July 6, 2018 at 12:00 am

By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator

In the parish hall of St. Paul the Apostle Church of Baton Rouge, fathers and sons gathered for a special prayer breakfast on the day before Father’s Day, June 17. But, they were feasting on more than just fruit, coffee and sausage and egg casserole. They were also served a heaping serving of positive messages along with words of wisdom for their families, their fatherhood and their faith.

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Baton Rouge Constable Major Reginald Brown talks about his own experiences as a father at the 3rd Annual Father and Sons Breakfast in the parish hall of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Baton Rouge. This year’s event was entitled, “Men on a Mission, Living ‘Godly’ in an ‘UnGodly’ World.”  Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator

 

“It’s like bonding time to sit down and listen to the issues raised by the speakers. Sometimes you live in your bubble and you don’t realize there’s other people that went through the same thing with the same concerns and you get little helpful nuggets from the speakers and just in general conversation with other men,” said E’Vinski Davis, who attended the breakfast with his young son, Ethan Davis, and father-in-law, F.L. Stewart. 

The format of the event involved prayer, and three speakers followed by table discussions. At one table, the topic of conversation centered around diligence. 

“When you’re diligent about your work and you do it well, people are going to know who you are when you walk through the door,” said Ra’Shawn Lawson. “There’s a difference when you walk in a room and people you know flock to you for fame, as opposed to someone approaching you and knowing your worth and wanting to be around you and involved with you and interact with you because you can help them build themselves. It’s a different fulfillment as opposed to just having an image.” 

Being a role model, setting a good example and making good choices was the name of the game for the prayer breakfast, entitled “Men on a Mission, Living ‘Godly’ in an ‘UnGodly’ World.” 

St. Paul parishioner Gerald Kennedy, along with his son Justin Kennedy, helped organize the event, which is now in its third year. He said the goal was to encourage men to mentor younger men and “lead with God and lead with church as keeping them on the right road.” He added that with so many distractions and bad influences, this is one way to encourage men of all ages to continue making “the right choices.” 

“It’s just a tie in with Father’s Day because we want to remind fathers why they are fathers and what’s your role as a father, just not in name but what you have to do as a father to encourage young men not only to a son but a father to a kid in the neighborhood or a father to a kid at church, somebody to be a role model, somebody they can follow and somebody they can look up to and do the right thing in life,” said Kennedy.

Major Reginald Brown, Baton Rouge constable, was one of the keynote speakers and talked about “the three C’s in our lives – choices, chances and change.” Brown described the choices he faced when he learned he was going to be a father at 19-years-old. With the guidance of his mother, he said he took a chance and changed the course of his life by going to work while attending college and supporting his new family. 

“I was in college, trying to go to school and work at the same time at my first job, that my mother helped land, on the back of a trash truck in the city of Baton Rouge in 1965; then, to a service station, changing oil, fixing flats,” said Brown. “But, that was a choice I made, the decision was simple.” 

Brown added that he had three more children but his first child, Reggie Brown, Jr., who worked as an investigator in the district attorney’s juvenile court division, was killed by an impaired driver on Florida Boulevard in 2003. 

“He worked with youth just like I did and he coached and he touched the lives of many youths,” said Brown. “The point is the choices you make in life, if you make the wrong choice, you can turn it around and make it right by doing the right thing.” 

The story had a profound impact on 19-year-old Southern University civil engineer student Ethan Sam, who was attending the breakfast with his father, Carlos Sam, and 16-year-old brother, Isaiah Sam.

“I’m learning about those that had it tough coming up and they’re really successful now and you wouldn’t know meeting them,” said Ethan. “But, whenever they start talking about their background it’s like, ‘Wow! They had it hard but they got through it and now look at them.’ So, it’s like motivation because you think you have it hard. (He was) 19 and raising a child and now (he’s) a constable … so, it’s like motivation because you can do anything. They did it, so you can do it.” 

According to Kennedy, the prayer breakfast attracted more than just dads, there were “uncles, church leaders, coaches (and) community leaders also attending.”

“Just anybody can be a role model by making the right choices and in a Godly way, trying to the do the right thing,” he said. 

“(This event is) important because we want, first of all, to acknowledge and celebrate the gift of manhood, something that is, in our community, often overlooked,” said Father Rick Andrus, pastor of St. Paul. “(It’s) something that, too often because of television and music and media, carry negative stereotypes and images. We want to celebrate the goodness and the strength and the positivity and the spirituality of men in our community and not only to celebrate that but to encourage it. You know it isn’t just something that happens once a year, but through this coming together once a year, we find the strength and the encouragement and the excitement to move beyond this and to continue to be strong, positive images of healthy men in our families, in our jobs, in our community, in our churches.”

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