BRIDGEPORT—Although I met my maternal grandfather only once, he left a deep impression upon me. The year was 1965 and I was 6 years old when my parents returned to Italy for the first time since their immigration to the United States. The occasion was my youngest uncle’s wedding which took place in the small village where my parents were raised in the south of Italy. My grandfather’s kindness and generosity left a lasting mark on my life.
During that visit, my grandfather, who tended a small farm, would often take me with him for his daily chores. I remember how he would allow me to ride his donkey, treating the animal with great patience and even a sense of tenderness, since they worked together on the farm for many years. After a 40 minute ride, we arrived at the farm and I vividly remember that my grandfather stopped to say his prayers under a large tree at the entrance of the farm. What I did not realize at the time was that he made a daily offering of all his labors to the Lord. As my mother explained later to me, his prayer was for the protection and prosperity of his family.
These memories came back to mind this morning because we are celebrating today the feast of Ss. Joachim and Anne- the parents of Our Lady and the grandparents of Jesus. I often wonder what great examples this holy couple gave to the Lord Jesus as he grew up as a child. In any event, it is clear that grandparents play an important role in the life of faith for any young person. By their witness, integrity and experience, grandparents have much to offer to families and the larger Church as they help pass on the Catholic faith.
My grandfather died in 1966, eleven months after my family’s visit. I will forever be grateful for his example of faith and I hope to one day express my thanks to him face to face in the glory of everlasting life.