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Mary Pedersen ponders the simple and profound ways grandparents can influence the lives of their grandchildren.

I spoke to a parish youth group to help prepare these teens for the Sacrament of Confirmation. During an exercise, I asked each candidate to write down one person influential in his or her faith life. I then had each young person stand and explain his or her choice. Nearly 70 percent spoke of a grandparent: “Grandma taught me to pray the Rosary.” “My grandpa, a farmer and the hardest worker I’ve ever known, always made time for Mass on Sunday—even during harvest.” “Whenever we are at Grandma’s house, we pray grace before meals.” These young men and women recognized holiness in their grandparents. As the Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers states, these grandparents served as “living signs of God’s presence.”

On July 26, we celebrate the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. No doubt Joachim and Anne stormed the heavens for Mary during her pregnancy and for Jesus, anticipating His life’s challenges. We imagine St. Joachim and St. Anne playing peek-a-boo with the toddler Jesus, relating ancestral stories, discussing Scripture with Jesus, and teaching Him life lessons. And I’d bet St. Anne made Jesus His favorite meals and treats. And, of course, St. Joachim took Jesus fishing!

For years my parents hosted Sunday morning breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, and a huge tray of frosted cinnamon rolls. The time for breakfast was “right after 9:00 Mass.” Between my siblings, spouses, and all the grandchildren, Mom and Dad often fed 21 mouths. Looking back on this fun tradition, there was a method to their madness—keeping their loved ones in the habit of attending Mass. Even the teenagers, who’d rather sleep in, forced themselves to rise early enough for Mass, as they were eager for breakfast with the family. Each of these grandchildren recognized Grandpa Bob and Grandma Lolo as “living signs of God’s presence.”


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As the grandmother of eleven, I have a prayer list that has grown and deepened. Each of our grandchildren has wormed his or her way deep into my heart. My prayers are fervent and daily for each of them, as this world becomes difficult to navigate. My steadfast hope is my life will reflect Jesus—that I will be a “living sign of God’s presence” through unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy, encouragement, and joy. I hope they remember times of our praying, giggling, playing, reading, talking about faith and important issues, and perhaps enjoying a few sweet rolls together!


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As we celebrate Saints Joachim and Anne, may we become more intentional in serving as a “living sign of God’s presence” to our grandchildren. #catholicmom


As we celebrate Saints Joachim and Anne, may we become more intentional in serving as a “living sign of God’s presence” to our grandchildren. For ideas on passing the faith to our grandchildren, please seek a Grandparent Ministry in your diocese or parish.

Lord God almighty,
Bless our grandparents with long life, happiness, and health.
May they remain constant in your love
and be living signs of your presence to their children and grandchildren.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen. (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers)




Copyright 2022 Mary Pedersen
Images: copyright 2022 Mary Pedersen, all rights reserved.