Pope Francis has established throughout the Church the celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and Elderly on the fourth Sunday of July, near the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. The announcement of this celebration coincided 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 concluded at the World Meeting of Families in Rome in June of 2022.
The next World Day for Grandparents and Elderly is July 24, 2022. The theme for this year's celebration is "In Old Age They Will Still Bear Fruit" (Ps. 92:15). The theme is meant to emphasize how grandparents are a gift both to society and the Church. For more information on the theme please see the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life's announcement. Read the Holy Father's message for the Second World Day for Grandparents and Elderly.
This year, Pope Francis is also extending the opportunity for a plenary indulgence "to the faithful who devote adequate time to visit, in presence or virtually, through the media, their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty” on July 24.
In the United States, the observance of Natural Family Planning Week takes place July 24-30.
Resources from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life
Ideas on How to Celebrate the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly*
- Host a Mass of Thanksgiving on the weekend of 24/25 July with a focus on the celebration of Grandparents. If possible invite Grandparents to be part of the Mass or to join in online if we are restricted by Covid-19. Include those in care homes.
- Grandparents' Book of Remembrance: Invite parishioners to share the names of Grandparents and elderly members of their family who are no longer with us in a Parish Book of Remembrance. The book can be brought to the altar at the start of Mass on the weekend of 23/24 July.
- Host a Novena or Holy Hour for Grandparents and the Elderly on the eve of Sunday, 24 July.
- Forget-me-not flowers are the official flowers for Grandparents. These might be included in the liturgy or seeds might be passed on to grandchildren to grow in memory of their Grandparents.
*Reproduced with permission from CGA
In their 1999 pastoral message Blessings of Age, the U.S. bishops invited older persons, their families, and their faith communities to develop new initiatives that encourage the participation of older persons in society and in the Church. Recognizing the social, economic, and spiritual implications of this rapidly growing age group, the bishops encouraged a fresh perspective that embraces the gift of aging. In Blessings of Age, special words are offered for (1) older people themselves, (2) caregivers, (3) the parish faith community--pastors, staff, volunteers, and all parishioners, and (4) younger adults. The publication also includes reflection and discussion questions, current statistics, and helpful suggestions. It was released in commemoration of the United Nations' "International Year of Older Persons."
- Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly (1999)
"As an older person myself, I have felt the desire to engage in a conversation with you. I do so first of all by thanking God for the gifts and the opportunities which he has abundantly bestowed upon me up to now."
- Pope Francis, Angelus (July 26, 2013)
"How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it
is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogues, especially within the context of the family."
- USCCB webpages on End of Life issues and Euthanasia, including the USCCB 2011 statement on physician-assisted suicide: "To Live Each Day with Dignity"
- Stages of marriage: The Later Years (For Your Marriage website)