At the end of May, a family with ten children came on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Paul and Sandy O’Leary from Alberta, Canada, came with their ten children, together with the children’s grandmother. Nowadays, it is rare to see such a large family with happy parents who dare to accept so many children. We asked them to say something about this pilgrimage and about their family:
About this pilgrimage:
Sandy O'Leary: I harboured the desire to make this family pilgrimage for about 10 years. Ten years ago, we sent our eldest daughter because it was not possible for all of us to go. This year, our baby was very good so I suggested to my husband: we should just do it! After praying about it he said: we should all go!
Paul O'Leary: I know Medjugorje since about 1990. We made this a Christmas gift to share. One of the conditions was that we should all go. All the children agreed and arranged their schedules accordingly. Grandma ended up accompanying us, which was a great bonus.
About the family:
Paul O'Leary: I come from a large family. I am the sixth child from a family of 14, and so our house is a magnet for other people’s children. If there are 3 children around, they bring another six along with them. It is wonderful. One of our prayers is: “A baby is God’s way of saying: ‘The world will go on’.” That is something that our children also recite with us. We are very blessed. My male colleagues in work have preconceived ideas of ideal family numbers, but after they have children, they love them very much. However, in many cases they are too old to have children when they want to have them…
Sandy O'Leary: We have 10 children, the oldest of whom is 22, while the youngest is almost one. I was 24 when I had my first and I was 47 when I had the youngest. It is all in God’s hands. We received them one at a time! I myself was an only child and I always wanted to have a large family. God has been very good to us. We try to pray the rosary together most days of the week. Having children only seems to be very difficult. The first child is very hard… the first two in fact. After that, having had a few, you actually enjoy them as they come. I have a degree and I was working outside for a while, but I found no peace in that. It was: “Go, go go, get, get, get…” This is a different type of happiness, of peacefulness… Somebody once told me: have one more, just for Mary! I did so, and I am so glad. It is such a blessing.