Archbishop prays for exhausted grannies
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has paid tribute to the country's exhausted grandparents who keep on caring, giving and honouring the sacrifices, responsibilities and generosity that hold family life together.
At a Mass for over 5,000 grandparents and great-grandparents from all over the country, who attended a special pilgrimage in their honour in Knock, Co Mayo, Archbishop Eamon Martin recalled one grandmother who recently asked him to pray for her daughter's marriage.
Though the family lives in a lovely, four-bedroom house with all the 'mod cons', the huge demands of work are putting pressure on their relationship.
The grandmother looks after her grandchildren four times a week, and often on Saturdays because the parents feel the need to relax with friends after the exhaustion of their week.
She brings the children to Mass on a Sunday and, last year, because the father and mother were caught up in other things, she helped the grandson prepare for First Holy Communion.
"It was so different when we were growing up," the grandmother told him, adding: "Everyone seems so isolated today, even lonely."
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Martin said Irish society needs to provide assurances to the elderly that they won't be forgotten or "written out of our plans for society".
"The measure of any society is how it cares for its most vulnerable" and "no one wants to see their grandparents or the elderly struggling to get a hospital bed and forced to sit on a trolley," he said.
He said the Government had to help the elderly and ensure they are not forgotten when it comes to things like transport and care facilities for when they are sick.
However, he applauded the Health Minister's efforts to try to reduce waiting lists, particularly in A&E services.
The prelate's own mother is now 90 and has 32 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He admitted when his nieces and nephews need prayers for exams they go to his mother and not their uncle, the archbishop.
"The people of Ireland love their grandparents and there is still a tremendous respect for the elderly in this country - long may that continue because we depend so much on them for child minding, advising and counselling families," he said.
He said the Catholic Grandparents Pilgrimage was a "day in which the Church acknowledges the pivotal role of grandparents in the lives of families". Grandparents, he said, are often "quite literally holding families together" and were therefore also holding society together.