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Call for worldwide celebration of Grandparents

By Sarah Mac Donald - 18 July, 2015

Catholic Grandparents Pilgrimage, Knock Shrine.The founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association has called for greater recognition of the role of grandparents in family life and for their role in passing the faith on.

In a statement ahead of the annual Grandparents Pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine in Walsingham, Catherine Wiley stated, “We need a Grandparents Day.”

“We would like a grandparents universal day in our Church on 26 July, the feast day of St Joachim and St Anne, parents of Mary, and grandparents of Jesus,” she said.

“Like World Youth Day – we need a Grandparents Day!”

She said a dedicated day for grandparents would recognise that “grandparents are the anchor in families because they are anchored by something deeper than themselves: their faith.”

The Catholic Grandparents Association is the fastest growing lay movement in the Church, built on its recognition that “grandparents are a hidden untapped resource to ensure the passing on of our Catholic faith”.

As the Norfolk shrine gears up for the annual pilgrimage, Ms Wiley urged grandparents and their families to participate in the day of “faith and fun for all the family”.

“Why do we go on pilgrimages? Because in the midst of life’s journey we need reassurance; we are bringing up our children and grandchildren in a culture that is very hostile to our faith,” Ms Wiley said.

“At the Walsingham pilgrimage, grandparents are united in prayer, sharing the same goal; to do the very best they can for their grandchildren. Grandparents have no agenda, they just want the best for their grandchildren and they are the glue that holds the family together.”

“There is a unique bond of trust and love between grandparents and their grandchildren. Very often you have a better relationship with your grandchildren than with your own children.”

Recognising that “grandparents are sometimes separated from their grandchildren by distance and other reasons,” Ms Wiley stressed that “the pilgrimage is a great way of uniting them”.

This year’s Walsingham pilgrimage will be led by Mgr Carlos Simon Vasquez, the Undersecretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. It is Mgr Vasquez first time to visit the shrine.

Fr Richard Gibbons, who is shrine director in Knock, will also participate at the Walsingham event.

The Shrine of Our Lady Walsingham is run by Mgr John Armitage who was inaugurated as the new director only this year in March.

The Story of Walsingham, an ecumenical play performed by the local children, will be performed at 5pm on 26 July.

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