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Catherine Wiley Homily Knock Pilgrimage

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I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart, for coming here today. I would also like to thank everybody who has helped to make this Pilgrimage such a success.. A very very special thank you to Cardinal Sean, who has honoured us by his presence today and encouraged us immensely by his inspiring words.I would like to thank Our Priests, for without them we would have no faith No Eucharist. Remember them always in your prayers.

Pope John Paul 2nd, said that Shrines of Our Lady were the appropriate places for Families to come together to give thanks and to find their identity. So we are in the right place at the right time. We are here in our thousands united by a common goal. – to do the very best we can for our families and our grandchildren. This is the age of grandparents in the Church – the age when we are called upon to embrace our vocation to pass on the faith to the next generation. We are needed now, as never before, by our families, by the Church, by the world at large.

A great deal has happened since we met here last year and launched the beautiful prayer which our Holy Father wrote for us. We have kept our promise to share that prayer with grandparents all over the world. We first of all presented the Pope’s prayer to the Pontifical Council for the Family at its sixth world family congress in Mexico in January, where we distributed forty thousand copies, and with the help of the Pontifical Council we have had the prayer translated into all major languages. And as a result of our pilgrimage here in Knock we now have grandparents pilgrimages in Germany, the USA, Tanzania, Australia, and the Holy land. If you did not come here in your thousands, I could not go out there and tell other countries. So Irish grandparents are leading the world in this great work,. We are missionaries like our forefathers before us as well as being natural evangelists in our own families..

When I read that beautiful prayer in Mexico in front of all those prelates, Cardinals, Archbishops with wonderful robes and splendid titles I was struck by the titles that our Holy father bestowed on us grandparents- STRONG PILLARS OF GOSPEL FAITH, GUARDIANS OF NOBLE DOMESTIC IDEALS, LIVING TREASURIES OF SOUND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS, THEM TEACHERS OF WISDOM AND COURAGE who pass on to future generations the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience. These are titles of which anyone would be proud.

So there is no doubt about our importance at this critical time. In fact the need is so great, and your response to these pilgrimages so enthusiastic, that we think the time is ripe for establishing a forum where we could meet throughout the year to plan, discuss and pray together about our great task of handing on the Faith. It will be called simply ‘The Catholic Grandparents Association’. We will need volunteers to help us, local organizers to open branches and start groups. But most of all we will need every grandparent in this country and in this basilica to join the Association. . Please fill in the membership form that you have been given and return it to us today. Give it to one of the Volunteers, so that we can contact you..

We have enjoyed 1600 years of Faith in this country and we cannot be the generation that failed in handing it on. God has given us the time, the wisdom, the maturity to do so.. We now spend more time looking after our grandchildren than ever before. So let us use every opportunity to teach them and to show them the way, so that, in the words of our Holy Father, “We may one day be reunited with them in our heavenly homeland for the great embrace of life without end”..

To pass on the torch of Faith is our vocation – our job from which we can never retire. When we light this candle today let us resolve to pass on that torch of faith and pray that it never goes out in this country. Make this commitment now today, make sure you fill in this form and become a member of the Catholic Grandparents Association so that this light might shine throughout this country until we meet this time again next year on the 12th of Sepember . GURA MILE MIT AGAT SLAN AGUS BEANNACHT . We will now light the candle.


Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

October 1, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Catherine Wiley, homily

Summary of the 18th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family

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Rome April 2008

A report by Mrs. C. Wiley and Mr. A. Ing on the plenary session of the above council held at the Vatican in April 2008 to prepare for the Sixth World Meeting of Families which will take place in Mexico in January 2009.

It gives us great pleasure to be able to share with you our experience as delegates at the 18th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which was held in the Vatican, Rome, during April this year. The assembly was the last meeting in preparation for the 6th World Meeting of Families to be held in Mexico in January 2009.

The theme of the three day assembly was ‘Grandparents, Their Witness and Presence in the Family’. This theme, the first of its kind, had been chosen specifically so that the Pontifical Council could reflect upon the increasingly important role that grandparents were playing in family life, and in the life of the Church.

Delegates gathered from around the world to share experiences, to reflect upon the challenges that families face, and to celebrate and give thanks for the faithfulness and dedication of our grandparents everywhere.

The Pontifical Council, under the leadership of the late Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, had planned that the assembly should be marked by prayerful reflection, and so each working day began with the celebration of Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the altar of ‘The Chair’, which reminded the delegates that their deliberations were to take place within the very mind and heart of the Church, and in which Grandparents hold such a special place.

In a very full programme we were able to consider scriptural images of figures from the Bible that have inspired a sense of wisdom, nurturing and faithfulness. We recognized that in our Grandparents we had access to a collective wisdom, ‘the ferryman’ that linked our past to our future. It was to them that we could address our request ‘Teach us to pray’ and to learn from their experience of life and its challenges by listening to their stories, memories and sharing with them our hopes and fears. The wisdom of the simple enriches us.

We heard of the pivotal role that Grandparents played in the emotional development of children, and the meeting recognized that Grandparents were in a unique position to be able to offer advice and to be approachable, sometimes more than parents, in that they did not always have to have a disciplinary role and could be less strict, more tolerant and good listeners. They were simple and effective catechists in their guiding of youth, reassuring children where there was conflict.

We considered the role of the elderly in the Church and in Society, and the part that the Mass Media plays in its portrayal of families today, which is often hostile.

Perhaps most touching were the moving personal testimonies and reflections given by grandparents themselves. We heard from experiences in the USA, from Australia, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from the Philippines and from Chile. Although these societies were very different, it was remarkable how the same concerns and joys were experienced by grandparents and how much desire emerged for further support, encouragement and help.

Over and over again we heard beautiful tributes to grandparents who were referred to by the Cardinals and Bishops present as  ‘The treasure of the Church…The Blessing to the world… The beauty of the elderly.’ And importantly that ‘even in their frailty and illness they draw from us the highest and noblest feelings of honour and respect.’

Many calls were made for Episcopal conferences around the world to set aside days of prayer and thanksgiving to celebrate Grandparents, and without doubt many Cardinals left the assembly with a determination to explore ways to further this desire. The call to ‘Build up the Kingdom by your wisdom and presence in our families’ was made very clearly by the whole Church.


Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

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True Treasures The Irish Catholic, August 28, 2008

Ahead of the national Grandparents’ Pilgrimage to Knock, event organiser and ‘grandparents’ champion’ Catherine Wiley shared her story with Paul Keenan… Open PDF

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Pilgrimage Organiser Invited to Address Vatican Council

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Pilgrimage organiser invited to address Vatican Council A Co. Mayo grandmother who managed to attract 5,000 people to the first National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage in Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo, last year has been invited to explain to a high-powered Vatican Council just how – and why – she established the annual event.

Catherine Wiley Founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association

Catherine Wiley Founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association

Catherine Wiley’s idea of hosting a pilgrimage for Irish grandparents came to spectacular fruition last September, when the Basilica at Knock Shrine was filled to overflowing. Now, in recognition of her achievement, the Castlebar native has been invited to take part in a Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Family from April 3rd to 5th in Vatican City . The theme of the meeting will be

“Grandparents: Presence and Testimony in the Family.”

A grandmother of ten, Catherine said:
“I am very honoured and humbled by this invitation. It is a great thing that the Pontifical Council for the Family are to discuss the role of grandparents. I got the idea for the pilgrimage when I started to realise just how important a part grandmothers and grandfathers play in so many families. They are baby-sitters when parents are so busy with their working lives, and they also have a unique relationship with their grandchildren. Many Grandparents today are struggling with the effects of divorced, separated, second union, or single parent families on their children and their children’s children. I have ten Grandchildren and I know the special relationship that exists between grandparents and grandchildren. Grandparents are there from the birth of the child, they are ever-present and they enjoy the trust of their grandchildren from a very young age. Many grandparents may feel they are taken for granted, and my pilgrimage sought to put that right, and also to honour grandparents for the part they play in helping to pass the Catholic faith from generation to generation.”

This year’s National Grandparents Pilgrimage will take place in Knock Shrine on Sunday, September 14th, when the keynote speaker will be well-known religious affairs writer David Quinn.

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm