Visit any Catholic church in Belgium and you will quickly notice a trend. Cast your eyes over the congregation and you will observe a sea of white hair. 

We are in charge of the evangelization team in several of our local parishes. When we took this on a few years ago, we were struggling with where to start. We wanted to do something to help change what we were seeing. We realized we needed to invite young people to meet Christ personally as well as invite older parishioners into a deeper understanding of the faith. We needed a game plan. 

Around that time, our friend, Mike Shaughnessy, came to visit from the United States. He invited a group of twenty grandparents to learn about a new program he called “Grandly.” Mike spoke about the role grandparents could have in evangelization and about having hope for your grandchildren. He noted that if grandparents could learn to be youth workers, they could be game-changers for evangelism. This idea struck us as something special. We let the Grandly idea simmer for a while but kept coming back to it. Maybe grandparents could play a key role in making a change. In Belgium, many older people knew their faith well because they were catechized as school children. Could we equip grandparents to pass on their faith to their grandchildren as a parish program?

Why not? 

Establishing a Grandly group could give us the structure we needed to reach grandparents and through them, their grandchildren. We decided to start our own Grandly group in our local churches. 

In Flemish, we call Grandly “Grootmoedig.” “Groot” means grand or great, and “moedig” is the word for courage. Belgium needs grandparents who will be bold and strategic if we are going to see a change in our churches. Grandparents have so much to offer their grandchildren, and we are trying to motivate them to be courageous in their role. 

That’s how we got started. You may be wondering what has happened since. We will share the ongoing story in a future article.

For Discussion: What does it mean to have “great courage” as a grandparent? What does that look like?

For Action: Consider starting your own Grandly group! Make a list of people you could invite.

Tony and Myriam Laureys live in Brussels, Belgium, and have 5 grandchildren. They run the evangelization program in several local parishes which now includes a Grandly group! 

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