A multigenerational family participated in the Presentation of the Gifts. Father Gene Savarimuth was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass.
A multigenerational family participated in the Presentation of the Gifts. Father Gene Savarimuth was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass.
Preschooler Patrick Wright was happy to be at the 12:15 p.m. Mass July 26 in St. Anthony Church, Hamilton, with both of his grandmothers.

And what made the Mass extra cool for Patrick was learning that Jesus had grandparents too.

“This is a special time for us to be together,” said a smiling Joy Wright, Patrick’s paternal grandmother and member of St. George Parish, Titusville.

“We are certainly enjoying our time with him,” added Linda Curtin, Patrick’s maternal grandmother and member of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown. “Today is a beautiful and perfect day to celebrate grandparents.”

Patrick and his grandmothers were among the well over 150 faithful who gathered for the Mass that commemorated the Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus. It’s an annual event prepared by the marriage ministry in Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, that, over the past several years, has blossomed into a treasured tradition which brings grandparents and family members together on the feast day to share prayer and fellowship.

Other parishes around the Diocese that also acknowledged the vocation of grandparenting either that day or the day before, when the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly was celebrated, included St. Mary Parish, Middletown, where a special outdoor breakfast was held, and Corpus Christi Parish, Willingboro, where the priests recited the Grandparents Prayer and offered a blessing of grandparents at all weekend Masses.

This year’s feast day Mass celebrant and homilist in St. Anthony Church was Father Eugene Savarimuthu, a former parochial vicar in Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, who currently lives in residence in St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, and serves as a military reserve chaplain.

While the Bible does not say anything about the parents of Mary, “the traditional belief that they were Joachim, a shepherd from the tribe of Judah, and Anne, from the tribe of Levi, is taken from the legendary apocryphal source (‘Protoevangelium Jacob’) written more than a century after Jesus died,” Father Savarimuthu said. He told of how the source recounts significant points about Mary’s upbringing , that she was born to her parents in their old age as a “gift from God for their fervent and persistent prayer for a child”; how Anne and Joachim offered Mary to the Temple; taught their daughter the prayers, hymns, psalms and services in the Temple, and gave her in marriage to St. Joseph the carpenter.

“St. Joachim and St. Anne continued their lives of prayer until God called them home to heaven,” he said. “They transmitted to Mary and helped her develop all her good qualities like trust in God’s providence, humility, love of the Word of God and a spirit of committed and loving service. 

“They faithfully performed their duties, practiced their faith and established an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remained obscure. Sts. Joachim and Anne have an important role as the maternal grandparents of Jesus,” Father Savarimuthu said. He added that veneration to St. Anne originated in the East in the sixth century as the patronness of childless women and minors while devotion to St. Joachim began in the eighth century. 

Acknowledging how Pope Francis designated that the World day for Grandparents and the Elderly be observed on the fourth Sunday of July each year, close to the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, Father Savirmuthu said, “Let us remember and pray for our grandparents on this feast of the grandparents, gratefully acknowledging the lessons of faith they taught us and the good religious training they imparted to us, directly or through our parents whom they trained.”

After the Mass and during the reception that followed in the parish hall, Philomena Mellody of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, spoke fondly of her two grandsons, ages 18 and 21, whom she had helped to raise, then described how over the years she has prayed to St. Anne and St. Joachim for guidance in her role as a grandparent.

Along with being a privilege, grandparenting “is my mission,” Mellody said.

Rita Potash and Donna Pienciak are the maternal and paternal grandmothers to three grandchildren, two of whom were in attendance at the Mass.

“It’s special to be a grandparent,” Pienciak said. “Rita and I share a blessing to be involved in their lives.”