Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recorded this special message on the occasion of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly (25 July). ‘I just want to offer my prayer and thanks to all of you who are grandparents and great grandparents and for those of you who are in the later parts of your lives ... for the gift of faith, love and life that you have witnessed to and given to others.’
Friends, I remember going up to my mum's farm – her home – when she was a little girl. I never knew my grandparents, but I certainly knew my aunties and uncles and those more senior in my own family, in going to visit up in Aberdeen area up in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and just spending time with those who have gone before me, and had passed on the gift of life, and the gift of love and family, and faith. Only this week, my auntie, the last in my mother's line, passed away—well into her 90s—and she had a very good life and a very happy life too. She was a religious sister, a sister of the Josephites who belong to the Lochinvar group of the Josephites, founded jointly by a St Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods.
I’m making mention of all of this and to note the gift, especially the gift of faith, that I received from my family and from those who have now all gone before me, because today, Pope Francis on this Sunday, 25 July, has marked out as the first of what will be an annual Sunday for grandparents and elderly people. And I think this is a beautiful initiative to Pope Francis has established. You might be already familiar with ... so often, Pope Francis talks about the importance of the relationship of grandparents within the family, and in the passing on a faith especially. And how, grandchildren and great grandchildren are a source of life and energy, and hope for grandparents and older, elderly people. So on this first of the grandparents and elderly people Sunday, I just want to acknowledge, offer my prayer, and my thanks to all of you who are grandparents and great grandparents; for those of you who are in the later parts of your lives for the gift of faith, the gift of love within family and the gift of life that you have witnessed to and given to others.
And for those of you who are watching this who are young, make sure that you take the opportunity to be with the older members of your family as often as you can. They're full of wisdom, full of love for you. And you give them the gift also of your life and dreams and hopes. So together, both the young and the old – grandkids, and grandparents – may this be a blossoming of life and family and of faith, especially.
I might just finish by praying a little prayer that I found which Pope Benedict XVI once wrote. This prayer, as you know, coming from the Pope Benedict who is now well into his 90s himself, he is now one of these elders, and what great wisdom and faithfulness and a love of the Lord that he showed to us, to us all. And so, I might just read this prayer, and we might all offer this prayer at this moment for those that we know, who are our grandparents and great grandparents, and those more elderly people within our families and around us.
A prayer for grandparents
you were born of the Virgin Mary,
the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne.
Look with love on grandparents the world over.
Protect them! They are a source of enrichment
for families, for the Church and for all of society.
Support them! As they grow older,
may they continue to be for their families
strong pillars of Gospel faith,
guardians of noble domestic ideals,
living treasuries of sound religious traditions.
Make them teachers of wisdom and courage,
that they may pass on to future generations the fruits
of their mature human and spiritual experience.
help families and society
to value the presence and role of grandparents.
May they never be ignored or excluded,
but always encounter respect and love.
Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed
in all the years of life which you give them.
Mary, Mother of all the living,
keep grandparents constantly in your care,
accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage,
and by your prayers, grant that all families
may one day be reunited in our heavenly homeland,
where you await all humanity
for the great embrace of life without end. Amen!
Proclaim: Office for Mission Renewal12 July 2021