It is said that the greeting card people Hallmark invented ‘Mother’s Day’ and ‘Father’s Day’ as a money-spinner. Seems like they never thought of the possibilities of a ‘Grandparent’s Day’ though.
The first-ever National Grandparents Pilgrimage will take place on Saturday, September 22nd, at Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo this year. The unique event was inspired by a similar event that has been taking place in England at the National Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham for the past four years.
The historic event will see grandparents from all over the country converge on Our Lady’s Shrine on Saturday, September 22nd. The pilgrimage aims to highlight the changing role of a grandparent in modern Irish living and the pivotal role they play in influencing the younger generations. In the age of single parent or separated families, and/or both parents working, grandparents can play a big part in raising their grandchild.
The day will make the congregation aware that the depth of knowledge and life experience that grandparents possess is invaluable.
“This will be a very special day, in which we can ensure that grandparents in Ireland know that they are not taken for granted. They are very important, needed and loved”, said former Eurovision winner Dana who will deliver the keynote address in Knock this September.
In the run up to the pilgrimage The National Prayer Appeal has asked all grandchildren to write a special prayer in honour of their grandparents and add them to the National Grandparents Pilgrimage website.
Already there has been a huge response and the sheer effort and care taken conveys the depth of love behind each of the entries. These prayers will be blessed and preserved in a memorial at Knock Folk Museum on the day. Anyone who thinks the faith is not alive and thriving in Ireland ought to read the prayers written by grandchildren all over Ireland.
The event received a boost when Pope Benedict XVI imparted his Apostolic Blessing and promised to pray for the grandparents, and the Holy Father has also been asked to write a universal prayer for Grandparents.
The importance of the church is pivotal to the whole pilgrimage, which will also honour St. Joachim and St. Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
Dr Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, who will lead the pilgrimage, is delighted to be involved with such a positive drive to encourage the Catholic faith in younger generations. “Grandparents have a very special and unique role in the life of young people. They have had an invaluable role in passing on tradition, culture and most of all the Christian faith to countless generations of people,” he said.
For information on the pilgrimage contact Catherine Wiley at Horizon House, North Mall, Westport, Co. Mayo (tel 098 50290) or e-mail info@NationalGrandparentsPilgrimage.com. The organisers would also like to invite people who wish to help out in the run-up to the pilgrimage, and on the day, to contact them immediately.