by Kara Hansen
LEAWOOD — Once a month, a group of Catholic men and their children meet at Winstead’s for breakfast — just as the restaurant is opening, usually well before the sun is up.
But it’s not just the biscuits and gravy that gets them out of bed so early on a weekday morning.
It’s the opportunity for Catholic fellowship, prayer, and time together that All Pro Dad offers its participants.
“All Pro Dad is open to all dads and children at St. Michael’s,” said Barrie Couture, a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood and one of the founders of the group there. “It’s a chance for us to focus on being good hus- bands and effective fathers, along with some nice fellowship.”
Each time the group meets, members start with a prayer to St. Jude, the group’s unofficial patron saint. The group then prays grace before the meal, shares some “housekeeping” items, and then settles in to enjoy the day’s speaker.
“We have looked for speakers who are Catholic dads — not all, but most,” said Couture. “They have talked about everything from family life to how faith works in their lives to how to balance work and family time.”
Speakers have ranged from former Royals baseball player Mike Macfarlane to an investment banker. A raffle follows the speaker, in which all kids in attendance have the chance to win something donated by an area business. As the meeting wraps up, fathers leave to drop their children off at school and head to work.
Mark Nasche has been attending All Pro Dad with his children — Nicholas, Megan, and Emily — since the group first got started in December 2007.
“They love going and getting a chance to eat breakfast with Dad somewhere,” he said. “They get really excited about the drawings every time for prizes. I enjoy it because they enjoy it.”
Nasche said while the opportunity to eat breakfast before beginning a hectic day is definitely a bonus, what he enjoys most about the meetings is the closeness it builds with his children.
“I spend time at my office working a lot, so it’s nice to have time carved out to spend with my kids,” he said. “And it’s been a great way to see other guys in the parish I don’t always see regularly.”
Parish administrator Chris Arth said that while there is also another active men’s group at St. Michael, All Pro Dad has filled a specific niche in the parish community.
“I think dads have a different focus in this group. It’s a really fun and kid-like atmosphere at the monthly meetings,” he said. “It’s a real coming together as part of our parish family and one more activity to help instill a sense of community in our kids.”
Because All Pro Dad is a national group of Protestant origin, when Couture brought the idea to St. Michael several years ago, he knew it would have to be adapted for Catholic use.
“We liked the idea a lot, but wanted to see it adapted to fit our Catholic faith,” said Denise Ogilvie, director of Christian education and liturgy for St. Michael.
The group was approved, with the understanding that Catholic content — prayers and speakers — would replace the orignal thrust of the organization. It has since become an important ministry of the parish.
“I think anything that keeps families together and tries to connect faith to everyday life and helps them go out into the world to build God’s kingdom is a great message and one that we’re happy to have in our parish,” said Ogilvie.