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Celebrating grandparents and the elderly

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 20, 2022

Sunday, July 24th is the Second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Pope Francis chose a verse from Psalm 92 as the theme for this special day. It highlights how grandparents, and the elderly are much-valued gifts for society and for our parishes: “In old age they will still bear fruit.” He asks us to make it a feast day of special encounter between grandparents and grandchildren and between the young and the not-so-young.

In such an encounter, the Holy Father points to a fundamental role for the elderly generation. He writes, “We elderly people often have a special sensitivity for care, for reflection, and affection. We are, or we can become, teachers of tenderness. In this world accustomed to violence and terror we need a true revolution of tenderness. We have a great responsibility towards new generations about this.” In our world today, tenderness is too often considered a sign of weakness. As our society is getting older and older, it should also become increasingly tender and caring.

At the conclusion at those Masses where I confirm our youth, I think it important to thank the many people who are instrumental in the faith life of the newly confirmed. After one Mass, a parishioner approached me and thanked me for my expressions of gratitude. However, he noted that I neglected to thank the grandparents. “Bishop, don’t forget to thank the grandparents!” Boy, was he right! Our grandparents are critical witnesses of faith for the newly confirmed. As we continue to seek to strengthen faith formation in family life, our grandparents are key partners with our parents. Especially today, our grandparents’ prayers, encouragement and faithful witness to the Catholic faith are crucial for the faith formation of our youth. You know that so many of our grandparents today work hard to foster the faith of their adult children and grandchildren.

On July 26th the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saints Anne and Joachim, grandparents of Jesus. Undoubtedly, their strong belief in God provided the environment from which their daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary would proclaim her magnificent fiat: “Let be done to me according to your Word!”

Let us pray for the elderly, who represent the roots and memory of a people. May their experience and wisdom help young people to look towards the future with hope and responsibility.

Our pastoral outreach to the elderly should not be sporadic but routine, especially since so many in our diocese are isolated, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic. Join me in thanking our grandparents for their witness to the Faith. God’s blessings to all our not-so-young family members and neighbors! Happy Grandparents and Elderly Day!

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