Pope Francis established the fourth Sunday of July as the annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Bishop John Barres, of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, commissioned the Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics with leading a Diocesan celebration honoring the important role of grandparents in passing on the faith and recognizing the value of all those in the community who are “rich in many years.”
World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly was celebrated on July 25. This year’s theme was “I am with you always” to focus on the closeness of God with the aged, and the closeness of intergenerational ties.
While there are separate days of secular recognition for both grandparents and the elderly in the autumn, the combined day of honor, during the more relaxed days of summer and inserted into the liturgical calendar, offered an opportunity to emphasize the holy bonds people share in our families and communities. The temporal proximity to the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, on July 26 is intended to reinforce the vital role of family in honoring the gifts of age.
“In preparing for this day, we can contemplate the profound beauty of our Catholic faith and traditions, the giving and receiving of love through our generational ties, and the perpetual communion we share with our forebearers,” said Dr. Lisa A. Honkanen, the director of the Diocese’s Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics
As part of the promotion of this initiative a new website was created that serves as a source of information and inspiration on World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly: CatholicGenerations.com.
“We pray this website will be the beginning of a spiritual journey that strengthens faith, family, and community: nurturing intergenerational bonds and helping us to “love the Lord with all your heart …. and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 11:25-27) which is the key to our ultimate goal of sharing in God’s eternal life,” Honkanen said.
The website contains information aimed at letting older, lonely seniors know they are remembered and to help grandparents convey their Catholic faith and traditions to their grandchildren. To assure the elderly in local communities feel loved and valued, the office has also suggested a “Cherishing Our Seniors” program, in which parishes may consider collecting small gift bags and/or friendly letters that will be distributed to clients enrolled in the Catholic Charities program.
For more information about World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, visit catholicgenerations.com, or contact the Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics at email@example.com.
Courtesy Diocese of Rockville Centre; compiled by Mike Smollins