Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, celebrated a special Mass for grandparents on Wednesday 26 July last, the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Mass was organised by the Catholic Grandparents Association and was celebrated in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam. In his homily, Archbishop Neary highlighted the important role grandparents play in the family and society at large.
Archbishop Neary said, “Grandparents fulfil many important and beautiful roles in family today. In so many ways Grandparents are the link between the past, the present and the future. Grandparents not only have that experience of the past, they incorporate it into the present with their grandchildren and in this way they help the grandchildren to look forward in hope to the future. That link between past, present and future is crucial in the society in which we live today. The neglect of one has its impact on the others. Grandparents fulfil the role of the experienced teacher. They have a sense of the family history and can relate stories which make a huge contribution to the identity of the family. That sense of family tradition was very much in evidence at the time of Jesus.
“In a sense grandparents are real heroes and heroines, though they may never receive public recognition.”
He continued, “Looking at it from another perspective we can recognise the hugely significant role which grandparents and indeed our generation have. We have a responsibility to pass on to children and grandchildren and future generations something in terms of faith values that will enable them to cope with and challenge so much that is being blared at them today from sources that are hostile to faith and spiritual values.
“In many respects the role of grandparents has taken on an urgency and a significance that it may not have had in other times … Grandparents are the first port of call in a crisis and are readily available for child care, child development and sharing life experience in a way that grandchildren could never gain from school. In those formative years of their grandchildren, the fact that the grandparents have moved over from the fast-lane of life and are now more at leisure and free to spend time with their grandchildren is a wonderful blessing for both. Isn’t lovely to see the way in which grandparents play games with their grandchildren. The stories which grandparents tell to their grandchildren and the way in which they share their own experience of life with them will never be forgotten.”
Archbishop Neary concluded his homily saying, “Today, we thank God for grandparents and the important role which they play in the formation of the society of the future. We remember also those grandparents who do not have ready access to their grandchildren either through geographical distance or perhaps for other reasons. Today, we thank God on this feast-day of Saints Joachim and Anne for the way in which grandparents become such a wonderful blessing, not just for the grandchildren but for the Church and society at large. We thank God for the wonderful work being done by the Catholic Grandparents Association and again I would like to commend the heroic efforts of Catherine Wiley, her husband Stewart, the Diocesan co-ordinators, Frank and Noreen Burns, the devoted committee, all who promote this association and yourselves for the way in which you come out in such numbers to celebrate this special occasion for grandparents.”
The full text of Archbishop Neary’s homily can be found on www.tuamarchdiocese.org.
The Catholic Grandparents Association was founded by Catherine Wiley and launched as part of the 2009 National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine. The CGA was formally blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2010. The blessing, received by Catherine Wiley, said ‘Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI invokes God’s Blessings of Joy and Peace upon you and all of the Association. Make them [grandparents] teachers of wisdom and courage, that they may pass on to future generations the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience.’ Starting with its origins in Ireland, the CGA has now spread to several countries around the world. For more information please see www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org.