On Sunday 25th July, we celebrate the First World Day for Grandparents and Elderly. Pope Francis has chosen the theme ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20) expressing the closeness of the Lord and the Church to every older person. You can find the full message from Pope Francis here.

Recalling the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – when the elderly Simeon and Anna encountered the child Jesus and recognized Him as the Messiah – Pope Francis said, “the Holy Spirit even today stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly.” The voice of the elderly “is precious,” he said, “because it sings the praises of God and preserves the roots of the peoples.” The elderly, he said, “remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between the different generation, to pass on to the young the experience of life.”

Vittorio Scelzo from the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life said “The opposite of the culture of discarding is precisely pastoral care for the elderly: putting the elderly at the centre of the life of our communities every day. Not only in emergencies, not only when it is too late to realise this.” The elderly “are trees that always bear fruit and people who continue to dream.” So young people must be “brought into dialogue with the dreams of the elderly.”

One of Caritas Plymouth’s  priorities is to embrace the value that older people can offer and reach out to those who may be isolated or facing difficulties.  We have recently launched a new project to bring together our Diocesan schools and Care Homes to foster a culture of dialogue between generations – Care Home Friends and Neighbours. If you are interested in developing a project in your parish, we would love to hear from you.

For resources for World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly please visit: www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org or  World Day for Grandparents – CathFamily. Alternatively please email caritas@prcdtr.org.uk