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Grandparents can play a key role in catechesis

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 September, 2015

Bishop Brendan Leahy

Bishop Brendan Leahy

Catholic grandparents can be a great example to their grandchildren on the importance of prayer in a time of difficulty, Bishop Brendan Leahy told thousands of pilgrims attending the 2015 National Pilgrimage of the Catholic Grandparents Association on Sunday.

In his homily at Knock Shrine, the Bishop of Limerick said grandparents can witness to the existence of a higher power – God – “whose loving plan for us is always greater than our measurements”.

One of the ways Catholic grandparents can be a presence of Jesus to their children and grandchildren is by witnessing and teaching them not to be afraid of the future, to lay down their lives in service of others and to pray, he suggested.

“In and through their relationship with their grandchildren, grandparents are ultimately helping their loved ones answer the question Jesus asked his disciples in the Gospel today: who do you say I am?,” Dr Leahy said.

He also highlighted the new programme of religious education and catechesis now available in primary schools which he said was a “golden opportunity” for all in the Church – “parents, grandparents, bishops and priests, parish communities, teachers, consecrated laymen and women – to revise our commitment to handing on the faith to children”.

“Grandparents certainly have a key role. For the new programme to be fruitful, it will need the lively involvement of parents and the parish,” he said.

Returning to the issue of how grandparents can encourage and help their grandchildren, Bishop Leahy said, “Grandparents who have lived many years of life can encourage fearful young people not to be afraid of the future.”

“So often, the world around them promotes cults of happiness, success and prize-winning but when they look at the world as it is, when they see the difficulties encountered in family life, when they are faced with the insecurity and crash that so many experienced in recent years, it’s easy for young people to be afraid,” he commented.

“Fear, after all, is also a deep sentiment in us because of original sin. Mental health issues are not uncommon today among young people. As we see in today’s Gospel, Jesus’ own disciples were afraid of the future. So he prepared them by encouraging them not to think simply in limited human terms, but rather to try and tune into God’s logic, God’s way of seeing things.”

Recalling Pope Francis’ own close relationship with his grandmother Rosa, Bishop Leahy said the Pope speaks of how beautiful it is to see the elderly encourage and manage to convey to young people the meaning of faith and life!

“For him, this is really the mission of grandparents, the vocation of the elderly. As he puts it, ‘The words of grandparents have something special for the young. And they know it’.”

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