Grandparents Impart Wisdom

Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic

Upon learning that the fourth Sunday in July was being reserved in honor of grandparents and the elderly around the world beginning July 25 this year, one can’t help but recall the love and patience imparted by this extraordinary group of people on to so many.

Some fifty years ago it was Mom-Mom Rose who was the strong Catholic influence in our family. Rose, who was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Philadelphia, Pa., was passionate about God and motivated in her faith. On Sunday we would pile in the Ford for a drive to Church rain or shine, sleet, or snow, to ensure her grandchildren attended weekly Sunday Mass. The lingering effects of her commitment in teaching us about God, the Holy Family and the Holy Spirit can be felt all these years later as I take my family, and now my own grandchildren to Mass.

The impact Vince and Annemarie Obsitnik, married 60 years, are having on their four sons and the 12 grandchildren (6 boys and 6 girls) is almost immeasurable.

“We try to teach them by our own example through going to Church each Sunday and praying,” said Vince Obsiknik, who admits it’s difficult to gauge the impact they are having on the children.

“We tell all of the kids it is important to be thankful for all they receive,” added Annemarie Obsiknik, who joined her husband during the interview.

The couple stressed that the real example for lessons in faith must come from the grandchildren’s parents, as they don’t want to over-step any boundaries, but admit to enhancing their parental support by showing examples of how God works in their lives.

“A grandparent’s example is as important as any other influence in showing our faith through how we live in our marriage, how we treat each other, and offering each child respect, and not focusing on any shortcomings we each might possess,” said the pair.

For grandmother and great-grandmother Carol Palmer, a longtime Epiphany Cathedral Parishioner, faith was ingrained from birth with three aunts who were nuns and an uncle who accepted the Lord’s call to become a priest. Msgr. Eugene Feldhaus, who subsequently died at 98-years old, taught the future Shepherd of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, in grade school.

Palmer, along with her future husband Charles, attended 12 years of Catholic School in New York. The couple married and had five children, (two passed away) five grandchildren and one great-grandchild, with another on the way. All the children were Baptized by her uncle.

“I pray each morning for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and offer Masses for them periodically. It’s understood when we get together that Mass is a part of our family time together,” said Palmer, who was widowed a decade ago.

With grandchildren in their 30’s Palmer says she understands faith and perspective can be challenging for them, but she remains hopeful that each will know that God is there for them in good times and in bad.

Remembering my grandmother Rose, who stood 4’8”, I can still see her kneeling next to me through the Consecration at Mass and feel blessed she taught me so much about God. It’s now time to get to work and keep our Catholic Faith alive through the next generation.