While this news has flown under the radar since it was announced a few months ago, Pope Francis has declared that the fourth Sunday in July every year will be the “World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly.” That means the inaugural celebration this year will fall on Sunday, July 25. The pope instituted this celebration to remind us all of the vast treasures of wisdom and experience that the elderly possess, and to encourage them to share that knowledge with the younger generation especially with their own grandchildren. The holy father also did so to remind the rest of us of the duty to be present to our grandparents and indeed to all the elderly, who are sometimes “forgotten” or ignored in the midst of the busy lives many younger people live.
The pope has also issued a decree granting a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, to anyone who participates in any solemn celebration of this day, either in Rome or elsewhere in the world; to anyone who spends time either actually or virtually visiting the elderly on this day; and to all those who being elderly or sick or for any other serious reason are homebound, who “offer to the Merciful God their prayers, pains, or sufferings of their lives” on this day.
How we will be celebrating in our parish
We will be doing several things to celebrate this day in our parish. First, on the “vigil” of the celebration, Saturday July 24, we will have a holy hour in St. Mary Church immediately following the noon daily Mass. During that Holy Hour, we encourage everyone to pray for their own grandparents, both living and deceased, as well as to pray for all those who are elderly especially those who are lonely, abandoned, or without anyone else to pray for them. We will be blessing all grandparents and all the elderly at the conclusion of all of the Sunday Masses (including the Saturday Vigil Mass) that weekend. Finally, for the younger children of the parish, THIS weekend there will be premade cards in the vestibules of both churches. The children can take one (or more) cards and color them to give to their own grandparents. There will also be a box in the vestibule of both churches next weekend, so that children who do not have living grandparents (or those who wish to color extra cards) can put those cards in the boxes, and we will distribute them to some of the elderly of our parish. In conclusion, Pope Francis chose as his theme for this inaugural celebration “I am with you always,” as a reminder that the Lord is present to the elderly even in these difficult times. May we who are younger always keep in mind the importance of always “being with” our grandparents and all the elderly as well.
Fr. John Paul