Pope Francis visits the elderly in Rieti, Italy on Oct. 4, 2016. / L’Osservatore Romano.
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis has chosen a theme for the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said on Feb. 15 that the grandparents’ day, which will be celebrated on July 24, will be an opportunity to reflect on verse 15 from Psalm 92: “In old age they will still bear fruit.”
The theme “intends to emphasize how grandparents and the elderly are a value and a gift both for society and for ecclesial communities,” a press release said.
“The theme is also an invitation to reconsider and value grandparents and the elderly who are too often kept on the margins of families, civil and ecclesial communities,” it continued. “Their experience of life and faith can contribute, in fact, to building societies that are aware of their roots and capable of dreaming of a future based on greater solidarity.”
Pope Francis established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021. The day takes place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, on or close to the July 26 Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the grandparents of Jesus.
Last year’s theme was “I am with you always,” taken from Matthew 28:20.
In a message released ahead of the 2021 celebration, Pope Francis encouraged the elderly to continue to spread the Gospel even in their old age.
“There is something beautiful here. Your prayer is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need,” he said.
The Vatican’s laity, family, and life office said that the invitation to listen to the wisdom of the elderly is also significant in 2022 given the synodal journey the Church has undertaken.
This year, the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly will also coincide with the 10th World Meeting of Families, taking place in Rome from June 22-26.
The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said it invites Catholic parishes, dioceses, associations, and communities around the world to celebrate the elderly and grandparents on July 24.
The Vatican will also provide some pastoral resources for its celebration in the coming months.
Pope Francis, who is 85 years old, has been an advocate for the dignity of the aging, and has often emphasized the important role of grandparents in passing on the Catholic faith.
For the 2021 World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, the pope said he was worried about how an individualistic society treats its older members.
In a homily read by Archbishop Rino Fisichella on July 25, 2021, Francis urged young people to show love and affection to the older generations.
“I worry when I see a society full of people in constant motion, too caught up in their own affairs to have time for a glance, a greeting or a hug,” he said at a Mass for around 2,500 elderly people and grandparents, together with their children and grandchildren, in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Our grandparents, who nourished our own lives, now hunger for our attention and our love; they long for our closeness. Let us lift up our eyes and see them, even as Jesus sees us,” Pope Francis stated.