Brandon Bradley leads a drumming procession at the beginning of the event.

The community of St. Martin de Porres started the celebration of Father’s Day a bit early this year with an event to honoring the community’s past, present and future fathers.

The event celebrated REAL (Responsible, Earnest, Aware and Loving) fathers, including surrogate fathers, stepfathers, godfathers and male mentors. The evening was song-filled, with messages of gratitude, honor and praise.

“We’re standing against negativity and darkness. REAL fathers have existed and have a legacy,” Dr. Shawnee Daniels-Sykes, one of the organizers of the event, said.

A highlight of the event was a celebration of 13 senior fathers, fathers of different denominations and ethnicities who are 75 years old or older.

Each father received a blue kente cloth, which represents royalty in the African Ghanaian tradition. A paragraph about each father and his influence on his family and community was also read.

Dr. Juliette Martin-Thomas, one of the organizers of the event, and two others performed a published poem she’s written entitled “A Call From Grandmothers,” a poem honoring good fathers and encouraging them to be resilient and take care of their children, parents and others in the community.

The event is a grandmother’s call to celebrate REAL fathers, and grandmothers also play an important role, said Martin-Thomas. Grandmothers, full of wisdom in their old age, by celebrating fathers, are showing the community that good, strong fathers are important and needed.

Roberta Harris drapes a kente cloth over the shoulders of her father, Robert Harris, during the program.

The event was hosted by the Rosary Plus Group at St. Martin de Porres, a group of nearly 20 senior women from a number of denominations and ethnic backgrounds, who meet every month to pray the rosary and discuss topics of importance. They also raise money for the food pantry located at St. Martin de Porres, and since the group’s conception two years ago, they have raised over $3,000 for the food pantry.

Daniels-Sykes said the group is not only hosting the event because of the national Father’s Day holiday, but also because despite many good fathers, others often give fathers a bad reputation.

“The men that we are honoring contributed in prophetical ways if you will,” she said. “They are active in Church and active in their families.”

Martin-Thomas, a clinical psychologist, said she often hears that men feel unappreciated and they value acknowledgement given in events such as the event at St. Martin de Porres. She’s also heard the perspective that not many men are good men. She hopes this event changes that perspective into a perspective of resilience.

“(The event) is a psychological strategy to get the men to understand that they’re appreciated and to model resiliency for others,” Martin-Thomas said.

Although the event honoring fathers is new, both Martin-Thomas and Daniels-Sykes hope it will become a reoccurring event and the message from the event is well-received.

“My vision is out of this can come a set of strategies for grooming males to be responsible, earnest, aware and loving fathers,” Martin-Thomas said. “A major component would be tutelage from grandmothers, who are operating from a place of wisdom.”