Monday, 31 October 2011

Catholic Granparents to the Fore

L-R: Katherine Bergin, Marie Pinter, Bishop Kieran and Catherine Wiley
Recently a keen group of grandparents arrived to find out more about the national organisations that exist to support them. The first speaker was from the Catholic Grandparents Association; Mrs Catherine Wiley, the founder. She inspired us with her story of the origin of the organisation. She told the story of being at Walsingham on the feast of Our Lady’s birthday and wondering what would be a suitable present for her.

She was struck by the idea that a pilgrimage to honour her Father and Mother – Ss Joachim and Anna would suit and so the idea of a grandparents pilgrimage was born. It was so successful that from it grew the Grandparents association. Until now this has largely been focused in Ireland, although there have been annual pilgrimages to Walsingham, and she explained that today’s venture was the first major development of the association in England.

Her speech was followed by one from the current president of the organisation, Mrs Maire Printer. She detailed its growth and explained how groups of grandparents can be set up to offer each other peer support. She stressed the importance of the role of grandparents both in praying for their grandchildren but also in offering practical support to their children. The benefits were huge for those grandparents who were able to support each other with anxieties and worries.

Mr Peter Harris concluded the morning from the ‘Grandparents Association’ and he clearly explained the avenues of support that were open to grandparents who were suffering through lack of access to their grandchildren.

Bishop Kieran celebrated a wonderful Mass and preached on the importance of family, its structure and the value of each member and then, being blessed with wonderful weather everyone enjoyed a relaxed lunch in the sunshine. Conversation was buzzing with excitement and laughter with many shared family stories..

The afternoon sessions provided a variety of sessions ranging from activities to do with your grandchildren, to unpacking the prayer written for the organisation by Pope Benedict. Many participants particularly enjoyed the session which was designed to experience the benefit of being within a group, laughter and tears were shared by all.  Thus inspired many of the participants went back to their parishes with the hope of establishing a grandparents group within their local area.

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