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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 lsolomon@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6536.

Written by Catholic Grandparents Association

September 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm