I never knew my grandparents!
I don’t often think of that fact but when I do I realize that I wish I had known them. They shaped my mother and father. They could have told me so many stories.
Now, after 50 years a priest, I have reached the age where I am celebrating the Baptisms of my great-grandnephews and nieces.
On this day designated as Grandparents Day, I find myself not only thinking of my own biological grandparents but also their equivalents in my Vincentian Family.
My biological Grandparents
When my Aunt Tessie died among her papers we found a family tree on my mother’s side going back to the time of the Declaration of Independence.
When I celebrated my 50th anniversary one of my cousins from German brought me a genealogy on my father’s side that reached back to 1495 and my 12th generation Grandparents!
All this information without a single visit to ancestry.com!
As I said, sadly, I don’t often think of my ancestors.
But I have come to realize that it takes more than a village to raise a child. It takes a tree filled with forebears to raise a child.
My Vincentian Family “Grandparents”
On the occasion of my 50th anniversary, I reflect on those who shaped me in my Vincentian vocation. The names of Frs. Fred Gaulin, Joe Dunne, Lou Trotta (with whom I had breakfast this morning), Tom Concagh, among other those who formed me at St. John’s Prep over 65 years ago come to mind.
In recent decades, collaborating with the Vincentian Family, I have come to realize that I was shaped in unseen ways by the generations that shaped the men I just mentioned. Not only them but the many inspirational figures of our wider and very blessed Vincentian Family reaching back 400 years to VIncent and Louise!
Pope Francis’s Love of Grandparents
Here is a sampling of Pope Francis writing about grandparents.
How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogues, especially within the context of the family.
The people that does not care for its children or grandparents is a people that has no future. Because it doesn’t have the strength or the memory to go forward…
There are some things we really need to take care of: the children, and grandparents. Children, whether they are young or older, they are the strength that moves us forward. We place our hope in them.Grandparents are the living memory of the family. They passed on the faith, they transmitted the faith, to us.
In a family, parents, grandparents, and children feel at home; no one is excluded. If someone has a problem, even a serious one, even if he brought it upon himself, the rest of the family comes to his assistance; they support him. … Should the same not happen in society?
They are our future, and we must have a dialogue. This dialogue between the past and the future is important. Because of this I underline so much the relationship between the youth and grandparents. They must speak with.
The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person… But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus gives always gives us that love: he is its endless source. In the sacrament, he gives us his word and he gives us the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.
In this year celebrating the 400 years of our Vincentian Family
- Let us acknowledge the impact of the multitude that have shaped us.
- Let us honor their gifts to us by “paying it forward” to the next generation.