Though all of us have experienced the events of the past year in some way or another, perhaps one of the hardest-hit groups has been the elderly, who are most at risk for severe illness and have suffered greatly with loneliness and isolation.
On Tuesday, the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life announced that the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly would be celebrated on July 25, 2021.
Pope Francis has chosen the theme “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). This theme “is a way of expressing the closeness of the Lord and the Church to every older person, especially in these challenging pandemic times,” said the press release.
The day is a call for all of us to be present in the lives of others. For young people to foster relationships with their grandparents and the elderly, and for the elderly to assist in passing along the faith.
The press release stated that the theme is “a promise of closeness and hope that young and old can mutually share. Not only are grandchildren and young people called upon to be present in the lives of older people, but older people and grandparents also have a mission of evangelisation, proclamation and prayer, and of encouraging young people in their faith.”
This is not the first time that the Vatican has called upon young people to be there for the elderly. In 2020 on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus, Pope Francis asked that we reach out to our older family and neighbors, saying, “They are your roots. An uprooted tree cannot grow, it does not blossom or bear fruit. This is why the bond and connection with your roots is important.”