World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly

In January this year, Pope Francis instituted a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated on the fourth Sunday of July, around the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. Pope Francis said older people have a "renewed vocation" to proclaim the Gospel and hand down their traditions to the generations which follow them.

Last month Pope Francis released a message addressing this theme from the Gospel of Matthew "I am with you always", comforting and reassuring elderly people who even in their darkest and loneliest moments, the Lord sends angels to console. Pope Francis encouraged elderly people to try and read a page of the Gospel every day; "the scriptures will also help us to understand what the Lord is asking of our lives today. For at every hour of the day, and in every season of life, he continues to send labourers into his vineyard.”

Pope Francis recalled the words of Jesus to the disciples when he asked them to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).

In doing so, Pope Francis reminded us all, and especially the elderly, that regardless of age, or whether we have grandchildren or not, or are working or not, there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and passing on traditions. We all have the vocation "to preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young, and to care for the little ones”.

Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Life, Family and Public Engagement, said parishes, schools, aged-care facilities and other Catholic ministries might consider ways to make the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly significant celebrations.

“I know a lot of schools already have special days for grandparents. Might they be aligned with this global feast day this year, or in the future?” he asked.

“Parishes could celebrate a special Mass or have a special blessing at the end of Masses on the weekend of July 25 for older people. Schools or parishes might think about sending a group to visit a local aged-care facility, honouring and acknowledging the immense value of our forebears.”

Archbishop Comensoli said there is much that can be learned through such encounters.
“At a time of great challenges through this pandemic, we might look to our elders, neighbours and friends for their encouragement and wisdom in finding pathways through difficult times,” he said.
“In honouring them, we honour their lives and journeys, and open up a richness of experience to draw from."

“The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly gives the Church a chance to more deeply celebrate the role older people have played in forming us as people and as believers.”

We would love to hear how your parish has chosen to celebrate World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly and stories about the gifts our seniors bring in their knowledge, wisdom, kindness and friendship.