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World Day for Grandparents, the Elderly

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 28, 2021

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Last January, after praying the Angelus, Pope Francis declared the Fourth Sunday in July as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. He wanted the date chosen to be near the liturgical Memorial of Saints Anne and Joachim (July 26), grandparents of Jesus. The theme: “I am with you always” (Mt.28:20) expresses the closeness of the Lord and the Church to every older person, especially in these challenging pandemic times. This celebration involves all generations and is born from the knowledge that the Lord is close to the lives of the elderly a well as the young, for God is with us always.

“I am with you always” is a promise of closeness and hope that the young and the not-so-young can mutually share. Not only are grandchildren and young people called upon to be present in the lives of older people, but the elderly and grandparents also have a mission of evangelization, prayer, and of encouraging young people in their faith. As the Holy Father wrote: “There is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren.”

This World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly we redouble our efforts to dismantle the throwaway culture and to enhance the charisms of grandparents and the elderly. May our seniors accompany their families with wisdom and pass on the treasure of faith to their grandchildren and to the younger generations. Our grandparents need to help the young to avoid losing touch with their roots and to build their lives on solid, faith-filled foundations.

I remember well each summer spending time during my school years at my grandparent’s farm. Every night we would pray the Rosary before bedtime. Although my grandfather prayed in French, I figured the Lord would understand what I was saying if I stuck with English. I remember, too, helping my other grandfather who was the parish sexton. Both of my grandmothers were active members of the Ladies of St. Anne. The Catholic faith defined my grandparents. Both my parents grew up in devout Catholic homes where family life and parish life continually intersected. Such an environment helped to create and nurture a culture of vocations in my family.

So many of our grandparents today work hard to foster the faith of their adult children and grandchildren. This is an opportune time to thank them for their enduring faithfulness. Our pastors and parish families pledge our love and support as all our elderly meet unique challenges that come with growing in wisdom and years.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

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