Bishops have welcomed the introduction by Pope Francis of a new World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly which will be celebrated for the first time this year by the Universal Church on Sunday 25 July.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of their Summer General Meeting, held via video link, bishops said, “Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has reminded us to value the many gifts of our grandparents and elderly and, in recognition of their role, the Holy Father has now instituted an annual World Day into the Church calendar to be celebrated on the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus.

“A new dedicated World Day offers a welcome focus by the Church on grandparents and elders, a cohort of people who have particularly suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many older people succumbed to the virus, while others had to cocoon for several months unable to see their grandchildren and families.”

The theme chosen for this inaugural year is ‘I am with you always’ (Mt 28:20), highlighting that promise of closeness that generations share with each other.  Bishops said, “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.”

Bishops have invited parishes to celebrate grandparents, elders, older priests and religious, who have given lives of dedicated service to their families and communities. Parishes are also asked to ensure that their local nursing care home is included in this annual celebration.

The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is one of the many initiatives of the ‘Amoris Laetitia Family Year’ which began on the Feast of Saint Joseph on 19 March and which will conclude at the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome next June. The Bishops’ Council for Marriage & Family is providing resources for parishes which be available from 1 July on www.catholicbishops.ie.

ENDS