July 16, 2021

Grandparents’ generation influenced the growth of a country, a faith

By John Shaughnessy

Jim Prior never met his grandparents, but he has no doubt about the way that they—and other people of their generation—sacrificed so much for their families and established a foundation of faith that led to the growth of Catholicism in the United States.

Prior’s grandparents lived in Ireland in the late 1800s, and like many people in European countries at the time, they watched their children leave their homeland for the dream of a better life in America.

“They must have been great people to have raised my parents and aunts and uncles who emigrated from Ireland to America and helped spread our Catholic faith while also becoming patriotic Americans,” says Prior, a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “They all came here with little more than the clothes on their backs and very limited formal educations, but ready to work hard and become Americans.

“It must have been heartbreaking for my grandparents to see their children go off to America, but they knew it was best for them. After one generation, most of their offspring kept the faith, went on to college or had become tradesmen. People like this had a tremendous influence on the growth of Catholicism in America. Just think of all the vocations we had in the 1900s, and the churches, schools and hospitals that were built because of them.

“Thank you, God, for these wonderful grandparents.” †

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