Catholic ministries are being encouraged to find creative ways to celebrate the inaugural World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be commemorated on July 25.
Pope Francis announced earlier this year that the day will be marked each year around the feast of Sts Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
In his message for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, with the theme “I am with you always”, Pope Francis said older people, even if 'energy is running out', have a 'renewed vocation'.
'It makes no difference how old you are, whether you still work or not, whether you are alone or have a family, whether you became a grandmother or grandfather at a young age or later, whether you are still independent or need assistance,' he wrote.
'Because there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren. You just need to set out and undertake something new.'
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, chair of the Bishops Commission for Life, Family and Public Engagement, said parishes, schools, aged care facilities and other Catholic ministries might consider how they can mark the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly.
'I know a lot of schools already have special days for grandparents. Might they be aligned with this global feast day this year, or in the future?' he asked.
'Parishes could celebrate a special Mass or have a special blessing at the end of Masses on the weekend of July 25 for older people. Schools or parishes might think about sending a group to visit a local aged care facility, honouring and acknowledging to immense value of our forebears.'
Archbishop Comensoli said there is much that can be learned through such encounters.
'At a time of great challenges through this pandemic, we might look to our elders, neighbours and friends for their encouragement and wisdom in finding pathways through difficult times,' he said.
'In honouring them, we honour their lives and journeys, and open up a richness of experience to draw from.
'The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly gives the Church a chance to more deeply celebrate the role older people have played in forming us as people and as believers.'