Marisa and Aldo D'Andrea, of St. Benedict's Parish in Etobicoke, will be at the World Meeting of Families Conference in Dublin, Ireland this week. They share their insights below on the reality of living out the Catholic faith with their grandchildren.
Tell us about your ongoing grandparenting experience.
We have been grandparents for about 27 years and have 13 grandchildren whom we cherish and love so much.
We have tried to be very present in our children's families by supporting them, being available when they have activities, events and mostly in difficulties. As a grandmother, I looked after all my grandchildren, mothering them when their moms had to go to their work. In that time, I would use the opportunity to nurture the faith in them, praying the rosary, learning to love each other and to know about Jesus and Mary's lives. Today, as they are a little older, we make boxes for Dr. Simone's Canadian Food for Children so they learn to share with the most needy. Also, my family has tried always to be very involved in parish activities and at Mass. In fact, most of our grandchildren have been and are altar serving to this day. As for me, their grandfather, I am always "on call", ready to take the kids to activities when their parents can't make it. I also visit my children's homes regularly to keep ongoing contact and see my grandchildren often to create a relationship with each one of them.
What inspired you to attend the World Meeting of Families in Ireland this summer?
Through a couple that works in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican, we were asked through the Focolare movement to write our experience about our family's life. In addition, our son and his wife participated in the last World Meeting of the Family in Philadelphia in 2016 and shared the abundant gifts they received through this event. We then decided to write back to the Vatican. To our surprise, our experience was accepted and we are now going to see Pope Francis, whom we love so much, up close and in person.
What are you looking forward to seeing and hearing at the World Meeting of Families?
The theme of this year's event is very inspiring: "The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World." This theme is so appropriate to the family reality that we need to foster in our homes. We are also looking forward to hear other families' experiences. We always learn how the reality of the families unfolds in their lives. The program looks very interesting and will talk about the Joy of Love, the encyclical known as Amoris Laetitia that Pope Francis wrote about the family.
In your opinion, how should grandparents attempt to share faith today with their grandchildren?
By practicing without being afraid to express your faith. Another thing you can do is talk about your experiences when you were a child with your own parents, giving the young generation hope for the future. You can also be an example of service in your community, especially to the less fortunate. You can also be open to include others in your family circle, by fostering acceptance, love and sharing between everyone. Finally, by living actively our religious customs, our sacraments will then work as living gifts and symbols of our faith and reminders of God's presence in our lives.
For more information on this year's World Meeting of Families, visit www.worldmeeting2018.ie