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Castlebar meeting will establish local branch of new grandparents organisation

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Castlebar meeting will establish local branch of new grandparents organisation

Media release issued by:                Sli Nua Communications
On behalf of:                                  National Grandparents Pilgrimage
Date:                                              October 27th, 2009
Available for interview:                   Catherine Wiley, Founder – details below

Grandparents in Castlebar will tonight (TUESDAY) come together to establish a branch of the newly-formed Catholic Grandparents Association in the town.
This follows an historic meeting in Westport two weeks ago which led to the formation of the first-ever branch of the Association anywhere in Ireland.

The Association, which has grown out of the popular National Grandparents Pilgrimages in Knock Shrine over the last three years, is now beginning the task of building branches around the country.

“The Catholic Grandparents Association seeks to support grandparents in every way it can, and also assist them in their very important role of passing on the faith to their grandchildren,” said Association founder Catherine Wiley, who lives in nearby Murrisk.

“I have been getting a strong feeling of renewed hope from grandparents. They have been fearful about how the faith will be transmitted, but see hope in what is being done now with the Catholic Grandparents Association.”
The Castlebar branch of the Catholic Grandparents Association will be formed at a meeting in the Traveller’s Friend Hotel, Castlebar, tonight, at 7pm. All are welcome.

Further details are available on

CATHERINE WILEY, Founder, National Grandparents Pilgrimage,
Tel: 098 64 700, Mobile: 087 288 2008 Email: MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from “” claiming to be

LIAM HORAN, Sli Nua Communications,

Tel: 094 95 42965
Mobile: 087 9185 867, Email:


Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

October 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm

CGA Announces First Ever Local Branch in Westport Co. Mayo

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The Catholic Grandparents Association (CGA) is delighted to announce the first ever local branch of the Catholic Grandparents Association in Westport Co. Mayo. The announcement was made by our very own founder, Mrs. Catherine Wiley at the St Mary’s church in westport.

Catherine Wiley Talking in the St Mary's Church in Westport Co. mayo

Catherine Wiley Talking in the St Mary's Church in Westport Co. mayo

The First Local Branch in Westport will hold its first meeting the 15th of October at 7 o’clock in the Carrowbeg House. Everyone is invited!

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

October 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Florida Catholic – ‘Grandparents – a great gift from God’

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On Sept. 26, the Diocese of Palm Beach honored grandparents and their contributions to their families with the first U.S. National Grandparents Pilgrimage.

Picture 3

Posted: 10.02.09

PALM BEACH GARDENS | Sixteen-year-old Kalyla Jefferson said her grandmother, 80 years young, is definitely a belief and ethics role model, whom she has looked up to and learned from.

“We love my grandma,” she said. “She has always been there for my mom and dad and for us. She is very supportive of everything we do.”

Kalyla and her sister, Kelsey Jefferson, 13, traveled south more than 100 miles from Melbourne Sept. 26 to be there for their beloved granny, West Palm Beach Mary Immaculate parishioner Olga Gidion, for a Mass to honor the older and more experienced. The Mass celebration was part of the National Grandparents Pilgrimage, the first in the United States, and it was held here in the Diocese of Palm Beach at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola.

“This was an important day for me to be here with my grandma,” said Kelsey. “I love her so much.”

More than 150 attended the morning event that included worship, song and liturgical dance, followed by a tribute and cookie reception. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito was main celebrant for the Mass.

“Grandparents are a wonderful gift – a great gift from God,” he said during his homily that touched on the lives of Sts. Joachim and Anne, maternal grandparents of Jesus, and their powerful example. “God gives us grandparents for a reason and that is to reveal to us more about his life and his love.”

As people arrived, greeters handed out programs and asked children to write prayers dedicated to their grandparents. The prayers were placed on the altar moments before Mass started.

Myriam Ambroise of St. Francis of Assisi in Riviera Beach wrote a simple but lovely prayer. “Dear God, please grant my grandparents longevity and good health. Grant them the desires of their heart.”

Mary Jane Watterson, a parishioner of St. Ignatius Loyola, attended with granddaughters Kate Koedam, 8, and Hannah Koedam, 11. When asked about her relationship with her grandchildren, she smiled and said, “They are in my heart all the time.”

Watterson takes care of her local grandchildren at least once a week, when their mother, Mary Koedam, volunteers at a nonprofit center that helps struggling women in pregnancy crisis. “My grandchildren are very special,” said Watterson. “I have five grandchildren on earth and I have three in heaven.”

The grandparent’s day held here is the first of its kind in America, patterned after pilgrimages in England and Ireland initiated by Catherine Wiley, a part-time resident of Delray Beach, who attends Ascension and St. Joan of Arc parishes in Boca Raton.

“I am moved to tears,” said an emotional Wiley moments before the cathedral celebration. “We are very honored and privileged.”

The grandmother of 10 approached Bishop Barbarito with her pilgrimage concept in December 2008. The idea was well-received and from there she began working with the diocesan Office of Family Life and Marriage to initiate the event that she is hoping will grow like an annual event held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, which began July 2003 around the feast of Jesus’ maternal grandparents. The England event inspired Ireland’s grandparent’s pilgrimage that launched in 2007. The annual September event is held at Our Lady of Knock Shrine.

“There were 14,000 participants this year,” said Wiley, about the event in Ireland she attended along with Father John Gallagher, parochial vicar of St. Joan of Arc. “Father Gallagher was representing the Diocese of Palm Beach,” she explained. The two overseas events include music, talks, worship, fellowship and prayer.

During the event here, Wiley presented a framed prayer for grandparents to Bishop Barbarito. The prayer idea is also something that came from Wiley’s heart. She presented the concept to the Vatican, and it was embraced by Pope Benedict XVI, who authored the prayer now printed in several languages.

Bishop Barbarito thanked Wiley for the prayer and for proposing the National Grandparents Pilgrimage in America. He also thanked grandparents for their prayerful presence, wisdom, example and inspiration to grandchildren and to faithful in parish communities.

“May you continue to know how much you are loved, how much you are appreciated, how important you are,” said Bishop Barbarito.

An October 2003 Census Bureau report, based on data collected on the long form in the 2000 census, shows that grandparents living in households with their grandchildren are not only teaching the children through their example and knowledge, but also taking on major financial roles in the family life. The report indicates that 42 percent, or 2.4 million of the nearly 5.8 million grandparents, were the main providers responsible for basic needs of children.

Diocesan organizers hope to continue to honor these unsung heroes, showing them how much they are loved for all they do.

“Those who attended were very positive and really wanted another one next year,” said Janice Petersen Minshew, event organizer and coordinator of the diocesan Office of Family Life and Marriage. “I think it went well.”

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

October 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, for Ireland’s third National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage, Knock

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“We salute with gratitude the Christian vocation of being a grandparent … So I say, tell your grandchildren all you know about God.  [Your] role in Irish families has always been cherished … it is one of the things which made our society strong, especially in the most challenging economic times in our history” – Cardinal Brady

My sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,

What a joy to see so many of you – but especially so many grandparents – gathered here at Mary’s Shrine. I extend a warm welcome to you all.

I am sure like me, you always feel so ‘at home’ here at Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock. The Mother of God wants us to feel at home in her presence. She wants us to feel at home with her Son and with the whole company of heaven in every celebration of the Eucharist. Here the beautiful representation of Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist with the Eucharistic Lamb of God, here at the Apparition Chapel in Knock are a rich and beautiful gift to each one of us and to our country.

I pray that, as a country and as individuals, we will always be worthy of such a wonderful gift. I pray that, as individuals and as a country, we will always honour the faith of our own grandparents and great grand-parents.  It is a faith that is reflected in this serene and prayerful place and treats it with the respect and reverence it deserves.

I extend a particular welcome today to all who have gathered to celebrate this wonderful event of the Third National Pilgrimage for Grandparents. I congratulate Archbishop Neary, Catherine Wiley, Monsignor Joseph Quinn and all those who have been involved in this tremendous initiative. It has certainly touched a chord with so many people.

It has become almost a habit to say that Ireland is changing. This event today reflects one of the most wonderful and welcome changes in Ireland in recent times.  In the past fifty years, life expectancy in Ireland has increased by almost ten years. It is estimated that by 2050 one in four of the population in Ireland will be over sixty-five.

Average life expectancy will also go up five more years to 82. So I think we can continue to count on the National Pilgrimage for Grandparents having a captive audience for some years to come. In fact, I understand there are already more great-grandparents in Ireland today than ever before. So I warmly congratulate all the great-grandparents who are here today. If you keep going the way you are we will soon have to have a special day for great-grandparents too! When you have a few grey hairs like me – that it is a very welcome thought!

Last week I got a letter from an 87 year old lady.  She wanted me to offer a special word of encouragement to parents in their efforts to promote the values of the Gospel.  She said that the people she sees, who are mostly doing this, are the mothers, feeding, washing, clothing, caring, sometimes day and night.  Today I gladly offer that word of encouragement to all parents, and especially to all grandparents who also do their work.  I gladly accept the challenge to get the message of encouragement out there to parents and to all who give themselves so generously in the cause of caring for others.

Yet in acknowledging this challenge I also want to acknowledge one of the other big and very positive changes in Irish society since most of the grandparents present were born. When most of us were growing up the role of fathers in bringing up children was the not the same as it is today. It was just as vital – but perhaps not as involved in the day to day care of the child.  It is wonderful that more and more men in Ireland now have a better sense of the partnership that should exist between a husband and wife in all aspects of bringing up children and keeping a home. It is absolutely right that men should be doing the dishes more, making the bottle and ironing the clothes! The men of Ireland got away with not doing these things for far too long!

It is also critical that men play their proper role in the social and emotional development of their children. The role of both a mother and a father in a child’s life is irreplaceable. Others, including grandparents, can do a marvellous job where either parent or both parents can no longer be part of a child’s life, for whatever reason.

However, nothing will ever replace marriage between a man and a woman as the best environment for raising children. But grandparents have a critical role to play in this regard too. You have the wisdom of experience. You can show the young that being a loving, committed parent is part of being fulfilled and happy, not an obstacle to it.

Any society which diminishes the value of the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, diminishes the very foundation of society itself.

Another significant change in our society in recent years is the increasingly central role being played by you – the grandparents of Ireland.  I refer to your role in supporting the economic and parenting needs of your own children.

The role of grandparents in Irish families has always been cherished in a particular way. It is one of the things which made our society strong, especially in the most challenging economic times in our history. It was not unusual in years gone by for grandparents to live with their children and grandchildren in the same home. It was commonplace for children to take on financial responsibility for their parents as they grew older.

In recent years, however, the economic and practical dependency of parents on grandparents has increased significantly. The situation has reversed. It has to be acknowledged that today’s generation of grandparents laid the foundation for the society of today.  Over the years they have probably contributed more in working hours and the percentage of their wages paid in tax than ever before. It also has to be acknowledged that it is your time and money which is now holding many families in this country together as they struggle with the consequences of the global economic crisis. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ – or more accurately of ‘Grandma and Granda’ – were critical to the success of the Celtic Tiger. As young families search for bigger deposits for dearer mortgages, the resources of grandparents will be critical to the success and pace of our economic recovery.

And yet your greatest contribution to Ireland’s well being and recovery is far more than financial. Last Sunday I spoke to a grandmother.  She told me, with a certain deep satisfaction, how her four grandchildren come to her every evening after school.  In fact, all of her fourteen grandchildren have done this.  She was pleased. Even though it could be exhausting, it was something she treasured and enjoyed.

So today we salute with gratitude the Christian vocation of being a grandparent. Being a grandparent is how you today, at this particular stage of your life, live out the call of your baptism. In that Baptism you share in Christ’s role as Priest, Prophet and King.

By your many acts of support and kindness towards your children and grandchildren, you are exercising your royal priesthood. By the sacrifices you make of time and money you live out your Royal Priesthood in a real and effective way. By your example of being faithful to God and to his Church you are a witness, a prophet in the lives of your children and grandchildren. By your willingness to so often put your own needs and financial security aside for the sake of the needs of your children and grandchildren, you are a witness to the selfless love of Christ.  You are prophet of the Kingdom of God in your family and in our society. By teaching your children and grandchildren to pray – as you so often do – you give them the most precious lesson they will ever learn.  By teaching them to hope in a higher power and a greater love, you protect them against something more dangerous than something like Swine Flu.  You protect them against the deadly danger of despair.

Then there are all those practical little things you do about the house.  You do them for your children and their families.  You probably don’t take that much notice of them yet they are so important for through them you show your concern for those for whom you have responsibility in the world.  By showing your good deeds in this way you are proving that you have faith.  As St James says in that Second Reading – ‘Faith is like that.  If good deeds do not go with it, it is quite dead.

Today the Catholic Grandparents Association is being officially launched.  This Association aims to help grandparents hand on their faith to their grandchildren.  That will be symbolised by the lighting of the candle and handing it on at the end of the Mass.  You grandparents, have so much wisdom to offer to everybody. Yet you are the critical link between the promise of the future and the wisdom of the past. You are the generation who can help us to keep the current crises in our lives, in our economy in our world in perspective. We have gone through difficult – perhaps more difficult times before. And we have come through them only to go on and to improve our society again and again.

Like the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading you know what it is to strive after the comfort and beauty of material things only to discover that: ‘Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.’ In the words of our Gospel, you know what it is to take up your Cross, to unite your sufferings in patience with those of our Lord, and to survive. Indeed, to find new and deeper dimensions of life.

As ‘older people’ – notice that I didn’t say ‘old people’ – precisely because of your age and your experience you can bring a deeper meaning to the important questions.  For example,

– What will really count when we come to die?

– What are the really important things?

– Who do you say that Jesus Christ is?

– How do you pray?

I once knew an ambassador’s wife who used to ask her dinner guests – ‘And you, how do you pray?’ Could you imagine a Red C Poll based on those questions.  No, I can’t.  The reason is simple:  the modern world is deadly serious and indeed extremely wise about lots of frivolous things but, at the same time, it can be totally frivolous about important questions such as: ‘Who do you say that Christ is?’

And so I make a particular appeal to you today. Grannies and Grandads always love to tell good stories and good news.  How often have you rejoiced at the wonder of your grandchildren as you tell them good news or told them about wonderful things that happened in the past that taught you something important about life..  So I say, tell your grandchildren all you know about God.  Tell them the story of Jesus and the stories which Jesus told.  Tell them who Jesus Christ is for you and why?  You can be absolutely sure they will be very interested.

You have come to Knock to pray for your children and for your grandchildren.  You have come to ask the help of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the help of her mother, St Anne, for those you love, especially for those who are sick.  You have come to ask the help of the Holy Spirit to guide them wisely and safely through life.  You are here to ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit for yourselves, to remind you of all that Jesus said and did, so that you, in turn, can hand on to them the good news that Jesus loves them.  You are here to ask the Holy Spirit, who descended upon Mary, to descend and help you to teach your grandchildren to pray and to talk to them about how God has helped you.  When Jesus was presented in the Temple it was the senior citizens Simeon and Anna who recognised him – not the priests, not the Doctor of the Law.

You are here because like Peter, you believe that Jesus Christ – the anointed one – is the Saviour of the world.  You are here to pray and intercede for many gifts for yourselves and for those whom you love.

You are here to ask that your children and grandchildren may come to know that Jesus Christ is the one and only Saviour.  Perhaps you are here because you have learned from your own experience that if anyone wants to be a follower of Christ, he or she must take up the cross and follow him. Perhaps you are here precisely because you have had to carry a heavy cross – and you know that, at times, you would not have been able to carry that cross without the help which you received from God almighty.

Whatever the reason – you can be absolutely sure that you are here because God wants you to be here for some good reason.

I believe Mary our Mother will help you. I believe Jesus her Son will help you. I believe that Jesus and his Mother rejoice in your every effort to love and care for your children and grandchildren. I believe they look to you in a particular way to pass the light of their faith and love to the next generation of young Irish men and women who will make this country great and each of you very proud.

Prayer to St Anne

O glorious St Anne,

You are filled with compassion for those who invoke you And with the love for those who suffer.

Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you To take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, And place it before the throne of Jesus So that He may bring it to a happy issue.

Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted.

But above all obtain for me the grace, one day, to see my God face to face,

And with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity.



Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 30, 2009 at 7:13 pm

American Pilgrimage – Sun-Sentinel

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Joyce Costello, right, picks up her granddaughters, Kaeli,12, left and Kierstin,9, from school in Boynton Beach. Costello is a grandparent who plays a central role in the lives of her granddaughters while the girls parents are at work. Next Saturday, the National Grandparents Crusade arrives in the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Joyce Costello, right, picks up her granddaughters, Kaeli,12, left and Kierstin,9, from school in Boynton Beach. Costello is a grandparent who plays a central role in the lives of her granddaughters while the girls' parents are at work. Next Saturday, the National Grandparents Crusade arrives in the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Grandparents, who often get little credit for guiding their grandchildren, will get special props Saturday from the Diocese of Palm Beach during the first National Grandparents Pilgrimage in the United States.

The diocese is the first in the country to host the pilgrimage, which began in 2003 in Walsingham, England. That pilgrimage and similar missions to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Ireland were organized by Catherine Wiley of Delray Beach, a grandmother of 10 who lives in Ireland part-time. Wiley has launched the Catholic Grandparents Association in Ireland and hopes to get a similar organization off the ground in the U.S.

“My generation didn’t pass on the faith like my parents passed it on to me,” said Wiley, 62. “The commitment was to self instead of church and family. When you get to my age, you see how much wisdom and maturity grandparents have, and you never hear about them.”

Bishop Gerald Barbarito of the Diocese of Palm Beach will celebrate Mass and host a reception in honor of grandparents at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens. Hundreds of grandparents and grandchildren are expected.

Many grandparents believe their growing role in molding the lives of their grandchildren finally is getting some attention from society. The 2000 Census was the first to calculate the number of grandparents who are the primary caretakers of their grandchildren. Among grandparents who lived with their children and grandchildren, 42 percent said they were “grandparent caregivers,” directly raising the children younger than 18.

In Florida, there were 345,949 grandparents living with grandchildren, one of the highest numbers in the country, with 35 percent of the households having no parent present, according to the census.

Joyce Costello, 68, of Boynton Beach does not live with her grandchildren, but every day takes them to St. Mark Catholic School and picks them up. Her daughter and son-in-law are teachers who leave early for work and relish her assistance in taking care of Kaeli, a seventh-grader, and Kierstin, a fourth-grader.

“It’s a big help and a load off their shoulders,” said Costello, who retired a year ago from the city of Boynton Beach. “They don’t have to rush home.”

Wiley believes grandparents such as Costello could use a support system to exchange stories and share experiences.

“Grandparents have no agenda,” Wiley said. “They are rooted in love and nonjudgmental. They are the glue that holds the family together.”

Lois Solomon can be reached at or 561-243-6536.

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Grandads gather with grannies at Knock shrine

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Grandparents Pilgrimage at Knock Shrine

Grandparents Pilgrimage at Knock Shrine


GRANDPARENTS HAVE finally found their voice, the founder of the new Catholic Grandparents Association said yesterday as an estimated 14,000 grandmothers and grandfathers gathered at Knock shrine, Co Mayo.

They were attending the third annual National Grandparents Pilgrimage and the launch of the new organisation by Co Mayo grandmother Catherine Wiley.

She said the response from pilgrims had “stunned” her and people from all over the country told her that they wanted to be involved in the new association.

“People are coming up to me saying ‘I want to start a branch’. I think there will be branches in every town in the country . . .

“The association will be a voice for grandparents and will also offer them practical assistance. In many cases, grandparents are the ones holding families together.”

Among the pilgrims at yesterday’s event was Michael Lambert (102) from Co Roscommon and Tom Ketterick (95), the Mayo man who recently reached the final of the World Cup Brown Trout Angling competition.

Seán and Margaret Davin travelled from Dublin for the event. Mr Davin said it was “an extraordinary day” for grandparents. The key role played by grandparents had often been overlooked, he said, but now a “fascinating new consciousness of that role has been raised”.

The Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady, said the “Bank of grandma and grandad” was critical to the success of the Celtic Tiger and the resources of grandparents would be critical to our economic recovery.

In years gone by, it was commonplace for children to take on financial responsibility for their parents as they grew older but that situation had reversed, Cardinal Brady said. “It is your time and money which is now holding many families in this country together as they struggle with the consequences of the global economic crisis,” he told grandparents.

He also alluded to the controversy over civil partnerships and gay marriage. “Any society which diminishes the value of the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, diminishes the very foundation of society itself.”

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Mayo News – Grandma and Grandad’s ‘bank’ easing financial crisis

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THE financial resources of grandparents – ‘the Bank of Grandma and Grandad’ – are helping many families through the current economic crisis,


Cardinal Sean Brady

Cardinal Sean Brady

the Primate of All-Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady said whem speaking at the foundation of the world’s first-ever national Catholic Grandparents Association at Knock Shrine last weekend.
Over 14,000 people turned out in resplendent sunshine for the National Grandparents Pilgrimage, including a 102 year-old Co Roscommon man, Michael Lambert.

“The resources of grandparents will be critical to the pace of our economic recovery. We salute with gratitude the Christian vocation of being a grandparent,” added Cardinal Brady.

By passing on the faith, grandparents could protect their grandchildren against “something more dangerous than swine flu” – the “deadly danger of despair.”


He also assured pilgrims that Ireland will come through the current recession.
Catherine Wiley, the Castlebar born grandmother who founded the Catholic Grandparents Association after establishing the National Grandparents Pilgrimage in 2007, said she was ‘stunned’ by the turn-out.

“We expected about 10,000 people, based on the attendance at last year’s National Grandparents Pilgrimage. We must thank God and Our Lady for giving us such a beautiful day which allowed so many people to come along,” she said. “The Association will be a voice for grandparents, and will also offer them practical assistance. In many cases, grandparents are the ones holding families together.”


The occasion also saw the launch of a song – My Guiding Light, a Tribute to Grandparents – by ten year-old Emma Humber.
Among the special guests was 95 year-old, Tom Ketterick, who recently qualified for the final of the World Cup Brown Trout angling finals on Lough Mask. He was accompanied by three other generations of his family, including four great-grandchildren.
The Association will be formed at parish level around the country. Membership will be €20 per year, which will help to cover the cost of newsletters, the annual Pilgrimage, and other events.
A website – – has been built to help spread the news of the Association’s existence.

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm