Newsworthy Dads Articles

Young and Restless

Dad has mission to change the culture

As a member of the generation of young Catholic fathers who want to live their faith and pass it on to their children, Shawn McAllister is active in the Knights of Columbus and is helping to organize the first Charlotte Catholic Men’s Conference on February 19, which has the blessing of Bishop Peter Jugis.

McAllister, 36, is part-owner of a commercial construction and real-estate development company in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been married to Jennifer for four years and they have two boys, ages 2-1/2 and 6 months.

Fathers for Good spoke to McAllister about his faith, the culture and the men’s conference.

Fathers for Good: What is the biggest challenge of a Catholic father today?

Shawn McAllister and his wife, Jennifer, rejoice at the Baptism of their second son.

McAllister: Excuses, lack of accountability, pride, and outright lying have become socially acceptable in our society. So many guys are concerned only about making a success, not how you got there. About what you have accumulated, not how you did it and what good has it done both for you and others.

I believe this shift in culture is a result of a lack of knowledge about the truth of our Catholic faith. Men have a natural instinct to “go with things” or “make things happen.” So many of us who were raised Catholic do not know the very basics of our faith, such as what sin is, who Christ is, and what Christ said and called us to do. This lack of basic fundamentals hinders our ability to be great husbands and fathers. You cannot be a great father without being a great husband and vice versa. You cannot love yourself without loving your Creator. You cannot love your child by not loving their mother.

FFG: How do you balance work and career with marriage and family life?

McAllister: It is our cross in life of the current times. I do believe that aspects of our society are harder to live in now than in the years of Christ and after his death – and that includes being great husbands and fathers and being a provider for your family. This is a challenge for the most devout.

For me, I strive toward strict discipline to make it my priority to put God first, then self and family, then work and charity. Point being, you must do all of these. We are called to do all, however, we need a decision-making system or every struggle will wear you down.

We also must have a daily prayer life, and much reflection on what is working and not working in our daily lives, while always trying to improve as a Catholic, husband, father, businessman, and person.

Lastly, living one day at a time, not getting anxious and worried. Trust me, I fall a lot with my cross, way more than three times a day, but I get back up, trying to get closer to Christ.

FFG: How does your membership in Knights of Columbus help your vocation as a Catholic husband and father?

McAllister: For me, it is our men’s prayer group. I need to sit around the guys and open up. I need to hear what I already know, “I’m not alone”, “It’s not that bad” and “Help someone who has it worse.” With the Knights, I receive some clarity, perspective, and gratitude in my life. It’s great to be one of a band of brothers who care for you and are willing to work together to make this a better world. It is great stuff and very important part of my balance!!

FFG: Talk about the first Charlotte Men's Conference that is designed to bring men’s faith to a higher level.

McAllister: We have two audiences to attract, the devout who are looking to grow their faith, and men who do not know their faith. For the devout, we provide tremendous regional and national speakers, a Mass offered by Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, confessions, and so much more.

We are planning for about 1,000 men to attend, and to provide them with the tools of perseverance for their growth.

Our second audience – men who do not know their faith – is more of a challenge. But we are reaching out to them because our faith calls us to spread the riches of Christ, to lead other men to follow Christ. We know that men have plenty of excuses not to come, so we target their depper need and desire – that is, every man wants to be a better father and husband. So that is our message. By leading with this topic and message, we attempt to disarm the objections. Through our imagery on the flyer, showing a family, we hope to get wives and children as motivators to the men. Our sole goal is to get them to the event.

Sitting around 1,000 like-minded men all wanting to be better fathers and husbands, there will be a great opportunity for all of us to open our minds and to learn – and we pray that many lives will be changed and improved. We really want the men to take this conference to heart and make it their own.

The message is Be a Better Husband, Be a Better Father, Be a Better Catholic. We hope it’s the start of something big in the Charlotte Diocese.