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Faith role of grandparents celebrated

By Susan Gately - 26 July, 2014

St Anna and St Joachim with Mary

St Anna and St Joachim with Mary

Today, the feast of  St Joachim and St Anne – the grandparents of Jesus – is World Grandparents Day.

Marking the day, the Catholic Grandparents Association (CGA) is inviting grandparents to join in solidarity with grandparents all over the world in praying the Rosary for their grandchildren as requested by Pope Francis.

“Grandparents’ vital contribution to the family, the Church and society was never as important as now. We are living in unprecedented times, with constantly changing social and moral values,” according to Irish woman, Catherine Wiley, founder of the organisation.

A former president of the CGA agrees. “Grandparents are taking on the role of keeping grandchildren in the faith. It is no easy task,”  Maura Printer told CatholicIreland.net

“It is not a case of teaching doctrine, but getting them to live as good Catholics – loving their neighbours, playing fair, including others in games and sharing their toys. Then giving them the basic prayers too.”

Catherine Wiley began the Catholics Grandparents Association when she became a grandparent herself.

At the time she and her husband lived close to the Marian Shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk.

In 2003, with the blessing of the Bishop of East Anglia she organised the first National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham on 26 July.

The pilgrimage has continued ever since. Today hundreds of grandparents from England will flock to the shrine for their annual pilgrimage.

Later Catherine and her husband Stewart moved to Ireland, near Knock, and with the blessing of Archbishop Michael Neary, began the Grandparents Pilgrimage to Knock which happens in September each year, drawing over 10,000  pilgrims.

According to Catherine Wiley, “Praying, showing the way and passing our faith” is probably “the most important job we will ever have and, for many of us, it may be our last. It is one from which we can never retire, so let us do our best. We owe it to our grandchildren.”

On this feastday, the organisation is inviting grandparents to submit prayers to its website, which they will send on to Pope Francis.

Last November, Catherine Wiley met Pope Francis, who has a special love for grandparents, attributing his own vocation to his grandmother.

Catherine Wiley with Pope Francis

Catherine Wiley with Pope Francis

Recently at a Charismatic Conference in Rome, the Pope described the elderly as “the Church’s wisdom” .

“Like good wine, the elderly have freedom given to them by the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, recalling the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, where Jesus met two elderly people, Simeon and the prophetess Anna.

“The elderly are the Church’s wisdom and yet we cast them aside,” he said.

The Pontiff added, “Grandmothers and grandfathers are our wisdom and strength.”

The Catholic Grandparents Association has over ten branches nationwide with over 700 members.

Internationally it is present in the UK, the US, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Nigeria, Malta, Italy and the Solomon Islands.

The National  Grandparents pilgrimage to Knock takes place this year on Sunday 14 September.

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