World Day for Grandparents and Elderly
In 2021, Pope Francis established 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 (July 26). The theme for the 2023 celebration selected by the pope is “His mercy is from age to age” (Lk 1:50).
The U.S. bishops have approved the transfer of the celebration of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in the U.S. to the first weekend after Labor Day in September to coincide with National Grandparents (and the Elderly) Day in the United States as many local communities, schools, and parishes have celebrated for some time.
In July in the United States, the observance of Natural Family Planning Week takes place beginning on the Sunday before July 25 and ending on the following Saturday.
Resources from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life
- Incorporating National NFP Awareness Week and Grandparents and the World Day for Grandparents together
- Catholic Grandparents Association
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."
- Full text in English: Blessings of Age: A Pastoral Message on Growing Older Within the Faith Community
- Full text in Spanish: Bendición de la edad: Un mensaje pastoral sobre el envejecimiento en la comunidad de fe
- 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)