“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!"
Pope Francis has established throughout the Church the celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and Elderly beginning in 2021 on the fourth Sunday of July, near the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. The announcement of this celebration coincides with the celebration of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family, which began on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph the husband of Mary, on March 19, 2021, and will conclude at the World Meeting of Families in Rome in June of 2022.
Ways to Celebrate
- The first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly will be celebrated in circumstances in which it will still not be possible in many countries for the elderly to physically attend Mass.
- In order for the message of closeness and consolation to reach everyone on this World Day − even those who are most isolated − we ask people to visit their grandparents and the elderly living alone in their community and to give them the Holy Father’s message.
- A visit is a tangible sign of a Church of outreach. At a time of social distancing because of the pandemic, a visit shows that there is a way of being close to older people while still observing safety measures.
- A visit is a personal choice to arise and go in haste to others (cf. Lk 1:39), just as Mary did when she visited her elderly cousin Elizabeth.
- A visit is an opportunity for a grandchild to say to his or her grandparent and for a young person to say to an elderly person they are visiting, “I am with you always”.
- A visit can be an opportunity to bring a gift, such as a flower, and to read the World Day prayer together.
- A visit can also be an occasion to offer the elderly, especially those who have not left their homes for a long time, an opportunity to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist.
- A visit to an older person living alone is one of the ways of obtaining a Plenary Indulgence granted on the occasion of this World Day