Pope Francis has instituted World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place each year on the fourth Sunday in July, close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday, 25th July 2021.
Highlighting the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope reminded grandparents and the elderly that at this crucial moment in history, they have a renewed vocation. "I want to tell you that you are needed in order to help build, in fraternity and social friendship, the world of tomorrow: the world in which we, together with our children and grandchildren, will live once the storm has subsided. All of us must “take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies”.
The Pope cited dreams, memory and prayer as the three important pillars that will support the new edifice. The future of the world depends on this covenant between young and old. Who, if not the young, can take the dreams of the elderly and make them come true? Yet for this to happen, it is necessary that [grandparents and the elderly] continue to dream. The Pope also invited the elderly to keep memory alive and to share it with others so as to inculcate values such as peace. Memories such as of emigration can help to build a more humane and welcoming world. "[T]he prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others,” the Pope lastly observed. "Your prayer", Pope Francis told grandparents and the elderly, "is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need. Especially in these difficult times for our human family, as we continue to sail in the same boat across the stormy sea of the pandemic, your intercession for the world and for the Church has great value: it inspires in everyone the serene trust that we will soon come to shore."
Pope Francis is expected to celebrate the first World Day by presiding at Mass on the evening of Sunday, 25 July, in St Peter’s, subject to health measures in place at the time.
Pope's message for the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly: Message of the Holy Father for the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly (25 July 2021) (vatican.va)
Cardinal Vincent Nichol's Message for Grandparents and the Elderly in British Sign Language: Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (cbcew.org.uk)
Catholic Grandparents Association website: Catholic Grandparents Association – Keeping Prayer at the Heart of Family Life