By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published March 17, 2016 | En Español
A number of our parishes and schools celebrate a “Grandparents Day,” which honors those who are blessed to be grandparents and whose youngsters love to host them at these special Masses and public receptions. As I have come to understand more thoroughly, grandparents just delight in sharing this kind of event with their grandkids.
Whether or not our communities hold special celebrations for grandparents, all grandparents hold a very special place in the hearts of their grandchildren. I was blessed to have known three of my four grandparents and even a great-grandmother. I can appreciate personally the value that these wonderful people should hold in every family.
Grandchildren represent a blessing for their grandparents. Those kids symbolize the future for grandparents and confirm God’s blessings upon how these fine folks have flourished in raising their own kids and have passed on the gift of life and faith. Last Sunday, grandparents were handing out copies of the Gospel of St. Luke in St. Peter’s Square as a symbolic gesture intended to remind all in the piazza of the important role that grandparents play in handing on the faith to their children and grandchildren. Pope Francis has often spoken of the importance that grandparents hold in the life of the church.
One of the families here in the archdiocese that I have come to know quite well welcomed their first grandson only last year. This little guy continues to delight this couple to the point where, in jest, the grandmother once told me that she would consider “legal action” against the parents if they were ever to move away from the Atlanta area, so important has this little one already become in his grandparents’ lives. These new grandparents are thrilled to love and care for this young man and to continue their witness of faith to him and his parents.
This past week, I felt something like a grandparent as I participated in the Eucharistic Congress for the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. Bishop Felipe Estevez, a cherished friend and St. Augustine’s local bishop, invited me to give a presentation at their congress. All of the members of their organizing team took the opportunity to thank me for the generous assistance that our Eucharistic Congress organizers provided for them as they designed their own congress. I was really proud to witness how many of our programs and time-tested strategies were now used in the St. Augustine Eucharistic Congress. I was particularly proud to hear of the generous assistance that our folks offered to the Diocese of St. Augustine as they began their annual congress, now in its fifth year.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is recognized throughout the country and well beyond for the success of our Eucharistic Congresses. In all honesty, my pride was due to the successful and generous work of our own people. I basked like a proud grandpa to hear of the good work that our folks did in helping this Florida diocese begin this spiritual tradition. There were even some of our folks who came to the St. Augustine congress to assist them and to share in the festivities. It is wonderful when one local Church can assist a neighbor in achieving an important spiritual program.
We are already beginning the remote preparations for our 21st Eucharistic Congress, and I hope that you are planning to share in that event. Archbishop John F. Donoghue provided the inspiration for this now annual celebration, and as we continue that legacy, let us keep him in prayer as we ask the Lord to credit its success to his spiritual legacy.
Grandparents look upon those precious grandkids as a part of their legacy in parenting and with great pride. I’m sure that Archbishop Donoghue just beamed to know that his spiritual heritage was being replicated in the Diocese of St. Augustine—and I basked in that same legacy.