Deacon Ken Henry offered a reflection at the April Grandparents’ Faith Café on the theme of Grandparents as Faith Connectors. You can read his reflection here:
When I’m bragging on my grandchildren, I like to say that they’re so much fun, we should have had them first. But with eleven of them, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges too. One of those challenges is knowing when to back off, when to believe that you have taught the faith, that you have pleaded that they follow the faith, that you have coached them how to follow the faith, that you have laid a strong foundation for your family…that your job is done. So when is that time? Never!
Admittedly, I was not always the best father…I saw my role as being the primary breadwinner and let my wife take care of the other stuff. I’m probably not much different from many men in my generation. How wrong could I have been? It is that other stuff that is important. I am not sure about Grandmothers, but I think God created Grandfathers to give us slow learners a chance to redeem ourselves.
I am probably a better Grandfather than I was a father. And even though I’m still learning, I feel that I still have a responsibility to my family as the spiritual head. Being an ordained Deacon makes it easier – somewhat. My kids expect me to talk to them about God, Faith and Religion…and I do. Our five kids cover the spectrum as to where they are in their faith journey. Which leads to more challenges –
One of the things that surprises me is that two of our children whom I thought would be weak in their faith are strong and the two who I thought would not be faith focused are becoming increasingly so. What I have learned from this is that after we have planted the seeds we have to provide continual fertilizer. And we do this not by just talking, but about the way we live and the way we interact with them.
This continues on to our grandchildren. Our grandkids know what i believe and how important it is to me…some also see a lesser commitment in their parents. I used to think that might confuse them, but I don’t any longer. I try to reinforce the fact with my grandchildren that my life is much better and happier since I have become committed to my faith.
My wife and I know that our children expect us to help guide their children in their faith and we work hard to do just that. Presently, our 15 year old grandson is living with us and I am getting a “mulligan” if you will. I try to talk to him about God in some way every day. I need to find a way to extend that relationship with the Grandchildren I don’t see regularly. In this weekend’s Gospel we heard Jesus say that we don’t have to see to believe…and carrying that forward, especially these days in our virtual world, we don’t have to be seen to teach and to lead spiritually.
Another blessing I have as a Deacon is that my main Ministry is “End of Life” – which gives me the opportunity to tell the children of the dying and deceased that the greatest way they can honor their parent’s memory is to teach and pass on the faith that was so important to their parents – their legacy.
As Grandparents we have learned that you can’t take much for granted though, our job is never complete…we plant the seed and we must continually, continually fertilize it.
Our grandchildren want to please us, and for this reason they listen to us…at least most of the time, and that makes it easier for us to engage them in our efforts. We must not give up on their parents, our children. It is a harder road at times but study after study shows when the parents, and specifically the father, is religious so are their children.
We pray that our entire families open their hearts to our loving God and learn to give Him thanks for the many gifts we receive and to ask for His mercy when they stumble. This is our chance to write our signature on the souls of our grandchildren, so make it bold, clear and legible.
Ken Henry is a Father of five, Grandfather of eleven, and an ordained Deacon. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Marilyn, for 52 years. He has spent More than 45 years making every young child’s favorite toy – an empty cardboard box.