The founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association, Catherine Wiley, has addressed the annual conference of the European Shrine Directors in Walsingham.  Ms Wiley urged Shrine Directors to host annual Grandparents Pilgrimages.  She said that the idea for the Pilgrimages was inspired by Our Lady herself.

“The very idea was inspired by Our Lady here in Walsingham.  10 years ago I prayed here on September 8th – Our Lady’s birthday – asking her what would be a suitable present for her.  Without any shadow of doubt I can tell you that I received my answer in clear and simple terms – honour my parents, St Joachim and St Anne, also the Grandparents of Jesus.

So we held a Grandparents Pilgrimage in Walsingham to honour St Joachim and St Anne; and to honour and thank all Grandparents for all they have done for us throughout the ages, especially in passing on the faith.  We also introduced a Children’s Prayer Appeal – inviting school children to write prayers honouring their Grandparents.  These prayers are presented at the Grandparents Pilgrimage Mass,” she said.

The Pope’s Universal Prayer for Grandparents is also central to Grandparents Pilgrimages.  The Pope’s Prayer is recited at every Pilgrimage and has been translated into all the major languages for the CGA by the Pontifical Council for the Family to assist the Pilgrimages.

“Such a simple idea – Grandparents Pilgrimages – with the Children’s Prayer Appeal and the Pope’s Universal Prayer, have now spread to Knock in Ireland; Aylesford and Walsingham in England; Carfin in Scotland; Germany, Tanzania, Nigeria, Cambodia, Australia and America,” Ms Wiley said.  She added: “In Knock it was standing room only for the thousands of pilgrims who attended and it has been like that for years in Knock with the Grandparents Pilgrimage, as Mons Joe Quinn will confirm!  Fr Alan Williams will confirm how successful the Walsingham Pilgrimage is!

It is the aim of the Catholic Grandparents Association to ensure that there is a Grandparents pilgrimage in every Marian Shrine in the world.  This will honour St Joachim and St Anne and will also honour all Grandparents.  In doing so, it will empower Grandparents to become more aware of their unique vocation and pass on the faith.  They are the main evangelisers in the family and fonts of wisdom.  Out motto in the CGA is very simple – to assist Grandparents in passing on the faith and to keep prayer at the heart of family life.”

Ms Wiley, who was accompanied by CGA President, Máire Printer, went on to invite all Shrine Directors to host a CGA Grandparents Pilgrimage in their Shrine.  “We have a proven formula and will gladly help you to organise it – a Grandparents Pilgrimage with the Children’s Prayer Appeal and the Pope’s Universal Prayer for Grandparents.  We want to honour St Joachim and St Anne and to empower and enable Grandparents across the world to pass on the faith.

The first step in doing this is by every Shrine displaying the Pope’s Universal Prayer for Grandparents in a prominent position, even to let Grandparents know that they are not forgotten.  We invite you to join the CGA, where we believe that our legacy is eternity – leaving a footprint from this life to the next…”