COMMON regrets uncovered among many Catholic grandfathers are that the faith is not being passed on to their grandchildren.
menALIVE co-founder Robert Falzon discovered this as he travelled around with the team, which runs men’s weekends around Australia and New Zealand.
“Grandfathers would often speak to us of their sorrow at how their children did not attend Mass or practise their faith,” he said.
“They would also express grief that as a result the faith was not being passed on to their grandchildren either.”
The menALIVE leader decided to do something about meeting this need, not only for men but also for women, and the result is a Grand Plan for Grandparents.
The plan proposes ways in which grandparents can become involved in spiritual leadership of their extended families.
The initiative includes 12 things a grandparent can do to help raise their grandchildren in the faith.
Mr Falzon said in many ways grandparents were invisible, under-utilised and under-appreciated in society.
“If you go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and try to find out how many grandparents there are in Australia, you won’t find any information,” he said.
“The only data you’ll find is on grandparents who are primary carers, and that is because they receive benefits as carers.
“Go to the Australian Catholic Bishops’ website and you’ll see no data on grandparents either.
“Our estimate is that about 70 per cent of the attending population at Mass are grandparents … and yet there is no ministry to grandparents currently running in Australia.”
Mr Falzon said often grandparents have lost a sense of purpose in life “because they are no longer working for commercial endeavour or don’t have jobs any more”.
“These grandparents make good Eucharistic ministers and good readers and take up the collection,” he said.
“But it’s become increasingly clear there’s a potentially vast volunteer workforce for the Church here, if we gathered these people in a meaningful way to give them validity.
“So we started A Grand Plan for Grandparents.
“The plan is simple – we want all grandparents to embrace the challenge of their Christian vocation, the call of baptism, to share their faith with their grandchildren.
“The hope is that one day someone will pick this program up and turn it into a full ministry.”
The program is yet another spinoff from the menALIVE ministry.
More than 12,000 men have attended menALIVE weekends across Australia and New Zealand since they began in 2003.
Coming events include a menALIVE weekend at Our Lady of Graces, Carina, starting on March 8 and Max14 at St Leo’s College, University of Queensland, from July 18-20.