Diocesan Chancery employee Donna Barnes with two of her grandsons
By Kathryne Rakowski
If you are a grandparent, then Sept. 10 is an important day for you! Grandparent’s Day, celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day, falls on Sept. 10 this year. It’s a significant day, as grandparents play a very special role in the lives of their grandchildren, especially for Catholics. As Pope Francis said in his message for the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021, “There is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren. At this crucial moment in history, you have a renewed vocation.”
Do grandparents today recognize their role in the lives of their grandchildren as a vocation? Many absolutely do. Alice Brown leads the Vocation Ministry at Divine Mercy Parish & the Mission of St. Bernadette in Central Square and sees it as a vital part of vocations that she’s been privileged to witness.
“The number of grandparents traveling to pick up grandchildren to bring them to Mass, encouraging grandchildren to participate through service, signing grandchildren up for catechesis, and actively guiding grandchildren in quiet prayer shows such devotion to passing on their faith,” she said.
Tom Pallotta and his wife, Jean, are parishioners at Divine Mercy Parish & the Mission of St. Bernadette where Tom is an usher and Eucharistic minister. He brings his two grandchildren, ages 11 and 9, to Mass each week. After observing their grandfather living out his faith and sharing it with others, both of them asked him if they could be ushers as well. They are now junior ushers and enjoy it very much.
“They open the doors for people and hand out bulletins. They love it,” Pallotta shared. “Passing on the faith should be considered a vocation for all grandparents. It gives the children direction in life and helps them be closer to God. Caring about them and giving them direction in this way will make them better people.”
Donna Barnes and her husband, Ronald, are parishioners at St. Stephen Church in Phoenix. They have three grandsons: 5, 2 and one just born in August. Their oldest two grandsons attend Mass with them and especially enjoy the music and love they receive from the congregation. Donna Barnes shared that she is very much looking forward to bringing her newest grandson to Mass and also looks forward to his baptism. While their oldest grandson is baptized, their middle grandson is not, but Barnes and her husband hope that through conversations and accompaniment, their grandson will eventually be baptized. As a grandmother, sharing her faith with her grandsons is extremely important to her.
“I do feel that it is our responsibility to pass on our knowledge to the younger generations. Sometimes parents get so busy and hectic in life that they don’t always go to church as much as the grandparents do,” she said. “Grandparents have more time to devote to the grandchildren in a more relaxed setting. They can bring the past and older way of doing things to the younger ones. Many grandchildren view time with their grandparents as fun, so some things may stick more from their point of view.”
So, if you are a grandparent or even an honorary grandparent, take pride in this special calling to create disciple-makers and pass on the heritage of faith to future generations. This work is vital to strengthening the tradition of the Catholic faith. For more information on how to support the grandchildren in your life, visit the Catholic Grandparent’s Association website at https://www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org/worlddayforgrandparentsandtheelderly/.