Since this is the very first meeting, things will need to be just a little different from a typical meeting. The most crucial part of this meeting is beginning to develop a community of Faith, trust and prayer. The secondary goal of this meeting is establishing the structure of your particular branch of the Catholic Grandparents Association.
Create a warm and comfortable space to hold your first meeting. maybe arrange chairs in a circle. Have tea, coffee and biscuits available as people arrive. Greet people as they come in. If you would like, provide blank name-tags, so people can write their names on them as they arrive. Allow people to socialise and become comfortable for the first ten of fifteen minutes. At that point, if people have not headed to the chairs, lead the way by sitting down in your circle and suggesting that you officially begin the first meeting.
It is essential to begin your first meeting in prayer, as a community of prayer. Introduce the Pope’s Prayer for Grandparents, telling others that it is one of a kind. It was written especially for all Grandparents at the request of the Catholic Grandparents Association. Its creation affirms the vocation of all Grandparents as faithful stewards of Faith and your importance in the family. If you have copies of the prayer, invite everyone to recite the prayer together as one person lights the candle. Or, if you prefer, recite the prayer alone. Take a moment of personal reflection as the prayer ends, to embrace the prescence of God and welcome his guidance into the gathering.
Introductions and Meeting the Family
It is important to get to know each other and build bonds as soon as possible, as a community with prayer and support at its core. Allow each Grandparent or couple to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their family and Grandchildren (names, ages, etc). Encourage others to show pictures of their family (if they have any with them) while describing their families. You might ﬁnd it useful to have each Grandparent draw up a family tree, beginning with him/herself and extending to their Grandchildren. (Make sure to have paper and pens if you decide to do this).
Before you begin this open and honest discussion, establish that this community is one of trust. Talk about the need to be open and honest with one another. It is essential that everyone feels comfortable sharing with one another. Ask that everyone keeps all conversations at gatherings private. You may want to say something like: “We are all here to share with one another and support one another through conversation and prayer. We need to be able to be open and honest with one another. We need to be able to trust one another. Having this trust means that what we talk about here will always be kept private. Let us always be respectful of each others’ feelings and be supportive. This opportunity offers us a chance to talk about being Grandparents and to pray for our Grandchildren, but we also have the chance to develop real relationships within our group. Now let’s turn to talk about what brought us all here today.” Now that everyone has met, it is a great time to talk about: Why did you come to the Grandparent gathering today? What do you hope to get from being a member? What is one thing you struggle with or think about as a Grandparent? These topics will help you engage in honest conversation. Take the lead in being open and even a little vulnerable.
It can be difficult to tell others the problems you are facing or the things that scare you but, if you are willing to trust the others in the group, they will follow your example of honesty and openness. Talking about these questions offers a perfect transition to the next topic for consideration.
Structuring YOUR Group
Before you end your meeting, you need to discuss and decide how you will meet in the future. This means considering time, place, length of gathering, how frequently, etc.
Close the gathering with a heartfelt prayer.