Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family has welcomed Pope Francis’ message for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be celebrated for the first time on Sunday 25 July. Bishop Nulty said, “I warmly welcome Pope Francis’ message for the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, in which the Holy Father reminds us of the need for the whole Church to be close to all the elderly and grandparents at this time of pandemic.

“There have been so many unsung heroes and heroines during the pandemic – grandparents and elders, including our older priests and religious – all who are to be applauded for how they have coped with the challenges and uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a society we have learned a lot from their stoicism and pragmatism in the face of so many challenges.

“Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has reminded us to value the many gifts of grandparents and the elderly.  In his theme chosen for this inaugural year I am with you always, the Holy Father is highlighting that promise of closeness that generations share with each other.  Not only are our young people called to be present in the lives of older people, but so too grandparents and elders have a mission to encourage young people on their faith journey.  Our little domestic churches are always enriched by the inclusion of grandparents and elders.

“In the text of his inaugural message Pope Francis expands on this theme and assures us that he has been close to all those who have felt isolated and alone in recent months and that, even at the darkest of moments, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us that ‘He is with us always’.  Pope Francis tells us that these angels sent to console us will at times have the face of our grandchildren, while at other times, the face of family members, lifelong friends or those we have come to know during these trying times, when we have learned how important hugs and visits are for each of us.”

Bishop Nulty concluded, “The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is being celebrated for the first time this year as part of a special Year on the Family to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).  I would love to see parishes in every diocese across the country celebrating grandparents, elders, not forgetting our older priests and religious, who have given lives of dedicated service to their families and communities.  I would also encourage parishes to ensure that their local nursing care home is included in this annual celebration.”

The Bishops’ Council for Marriage & Family will be providing resources for parishes for the World Day which will be available from 1 July on www.catholicbishops.ie.

ENDS