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World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly

Dear Friends in Christ:

This weekend we celebrate the FIRST-EVER World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood involved my grandparents. My mother’s mother and my father’s father were both deceased before I was born, but I had the privilege of having in my life, knowing and loving my mother’s grandmother, my mother’s father, and my father’s mother. Visits to Mémère or Grandpa Harold were numerous, especially since I was the youngest and not yet in school, so I was always able and privileged to go with mom to take them to the doctor, have lunch, and enjoy some ice cream at AC Petersen in West Hartford. And my beloved grandmother (dad’s mom) lived only two streets away from us; her house was the place we would often go to for a visit, to bake cookies, and to enjoy her cooking. (Some of her recipes are in the Parish Pandemic Cookbook, so check it out on our website.) Grandma Romans was the best! She loved having all of us around and loved spending time with us. So many memories of these privileged times with my grandparents come to mind this weekend as we celebrate this First-Ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

On January 31st of this year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, announced a new celebration in honor of all grandparents and the elderly, who are so important to our communities and to our Church. Pope Francis has also granted a plenary indulgence to grandparents, the elderly, and all those who participate in a solemn celebration of this day as well as to those who spend time (actually or virtually) with an elderly brother or sister in need on this day.

“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), is the promise the Lord Jesus made to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. This is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is close to you—dear grandparents and elderly—and close to us—and cares about you, loves you, and does not want to leave you alone! It is fitting that this celebration is instituted this year, as we are emerging from a pandemic that left many feeling isolated and alone. The pandemic struck the elderly in particular and caused many not only to get ill but many more to die or experience the death of a spouse during this difficult time of isolation. The Lord was with us through it all and this celebration today reminds us of this in a very real way. He is aware of all that we went through these many months. He is aware of the feelings we had as we waded the waters of the pandemic. Tradition has it that Saint Joachim, the grandfather of Jesus, felt estranged from those around him because he had no children; his life, like that of his wife Anne, was considered useless. So the Lord sent an angel to console him. Even at the darkest moments, as in these months of pandemic, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us of His great promise: “I am with you always.” He says this to you, and he says it to me.