Pope Francis has declared today to be a special celebration of grandparents and seniors.
The past year and a half since the pandemic started have been especially hard on the elderly. Not only were they most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications, but the isolation of social distancing and fears about the virus affected them greatly.
That’s part of the reason why Pope Francis chose to shine a spotlight on the elderly and on the grandparents of our communities. The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has declared today to be the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly.
In his message for the occasion, Pope Francis said,
The pandemic was an unexpected and furious storm, a severe test that hit everyone’s life, but that we elderly people have reserved a special treatment, a harsher treatment. Many of us have fallen ill, and many have left, or have seen the life of their spouses or loved ones die out, too many have been forced into solitude for a very long time, isolated.
The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this first commemoration is “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). This text expresses the closeness of the Lord and the Church to every older person, especially in these challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Perhaps another reason Pope Francis instituted this day is because of a massive demographic shift: The proportion of elderly people in our population is increasing rapidly.
The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent. It only makes sense to turn pastoral attention to the needs of this growing community.
All of us can celebrate this special new day in the Church. We can all be part of the movement to care for the elderly with respect and loving tenderness.
Here are 5 ways that you can honor the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly in your own life.