Ahead of the first-ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on Sunday, July 25, the Standing Committee for Family and Life of the Canadian Bishops Conference highlights the special place of the elderly in the church and society.
The message comes in a video for Sunday’s Inaugural celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. The theme of the celebration is: “I am with you always” (Mt 28: 20).
In the video released, the Canadian Bishops’ Conference Standing Committee for Family and Life (CCCB) is inviting young people, families, and communities to draw near and to spend time with grandparents and the elderly, cherishing and valuing their essential role in the church and society.
This first World Day is part of Pope Francis’ larger idea for the Amoris Laetitia Family Year which runs from 19 March 2021 – June 2022. The year highlights the importance of pastoral care of the elderly within the Christian community, encouraging us to spend time with one another and engage in intergenerational conversations.
The Pope had instituted World Day at the Sunday Angelus on January 31. According to Pope Francis, it would hold each year on the fourth Sunday in July, close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
“On this First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, we give thanks to God for each of you and the many gifts He grants to us through you,” are the words with which the video message addressed to the elderly begins.
The CCCB has therefore assured the elderly that in spite of the uncertain and turbulent times, the Lord and the Church are close to them.
“The Holy Father wishes to remind the whole world that the voice of the elderly is precious because it sings the praises of God and preserves the roots of the peoples.”
The message also highlighted the past many months that have been marked with significant challenges for all, particularly for the elderly, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Globally, many elderly people have experienced terrible isolation.
“Families, grandchildren, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbours have been separated, distanced, and many have lost loved one,” the message noted.
“How we have missed not being able to visit one another, to hold hands, to give and receive hugs, to gather around tables to share a meal and enjoy one another’s company!”
The bishops noted that despite the challenges, the “digital world, telephone calls, and hand-written letters” served “as a way to unite us, to communicate and to lighten the load,” and to reduce the difficulty of not being physically present to one another.