Instituted by Pope Francis as an annual Church-wide celebration,
The First World Day of Prayer for Grandparents and the Elderly
was celebrated on Sunday July 25th 2021, midway through the year dedicated to family by the Holy Father on the fifth anniversary of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
This was a deliberate choice that stems from awareness of how the elderly − all the elderly, including those who are not grandparents − need a family environment in which to live, and also how it is necessary for families to become aware of the role being played by their older members. (Pastoral Guidelines published by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, June 2021)
The grandparents and the elderly of our Archdiocese were remembered in prayer specifically on this day as Sunday Masses across the diocese were dedicated to them, with bidding prayers being included for their intentions and our need to recognise their true value within our families. In a very personal message, the Pope acknowledges himself as an elderly man and unites himself with them. ‘“I am with you always” (Mt 28:20): this is the promise the Lord made to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. They are the words that he repeats to you today, dear grandfathers and grandmothers, dear elderly friends. “I am with you always” are also the words that I, as Bishop of Rome and an elderly person like yourselves, would like to address to you on this first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. The whole Church is close to you – to us – and cares about you, loves you and does not want to leave you alone!’ His full message is available to watch or download
There are several organisations offering help and support but the following is a potential start if you are looking for advice, support, information, help or simply someone to talk to.
- Participating in online forms of Mass celebration and other liturgies
remaining connected to our faith is of particular concern during these challenging times and feeling connected with our parish, Church families; several parishes across the deaneries and diocese are live-streaming Mass; Exposition and joint praying of the Rosary are also available.
This provides an opportunity also to ‘Mass hop’ around the diocese, in fact around the country and even the world! as well as ‘attend’ special occasions like First Holy Communions and Confirmations as well as funerals.
Visit your local parish websites for more details.
- Age UK
as well as information and support you can sign up for Telephone befriending services, a free weekly friendship call. They’ll match you with one of their volunteers. Call in Time is flexible to suit the different needs of everyone who takes part.
- Dementia Friends
have an online forum where carers and families of those living with dementia can ask questions and share their experiences.
- Local Government websites will potentially have information
Stay connected with family and friends
The pandemic has highlighted the wonders of technology for keeping in touch when we can’t be together; WhatsApp, FaceBook, Twitter, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime (and maybe others) all offer ways to keep connected to family and friends of all generations, and of course there is the ‘old-fashioned’ telephone!
Members of the different generations can support each other in learning to use social media and the internet; grandchildren can help parents and grandparents and they in return can use these tools to support their children’s and grandchildren’s learning too.
And of course, we can all pray for our grandparents but remember to give them a call, or pay them a visit if you can, as well as to pray for them.
There are lots of ways to involve grandparents and the elderly in the life of your school or parish.
Several websites exist with abundant ideas;