Bishop Terry’s Summer 2021 Voice Column

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has inaugurated a special day for Grandparents and the Elderly on July 25. In his message he reminds us that Jesus promised his disciples he would be with them always (cf Mt 28.20). He says that in fact, the whole Church cares and loves all grandparents and elderly people.

He acknowledges that we have come through a very difficult period as a result of the pandemic – many have experienced sickness, bereavement and isolation. However, the Lord continues to fulfil his promise to be with us always by sending “Angels” to console the lonely. These angels often have the faces of grandchildren, family members and close friends. The Holy Father commented on how sad it made him feel that even now it was not possible in some places to receive or offer a hug or to visit individuals in their home.

Remember that the Lord still speaks to each one of us through his word in the Scriptures. It is so vital for us to read a passage of the Gospels each day. For, in our day, the Lord continues to send labourers into his vineyard. Why, even Pope Francis was given a new calling just at the point when he thought he was going to retire – he was called to be Bishop of Rome! The Lord is ever new, but he never retires.

Pope Francis reminds us that “our vocation is to preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young. Never forget this.” Each of us has a vocation, especially grandparents and the elderly, to preach the Gospel and to pass on the traditions of our faith to our grandchildren, to build up fraternity and social friendship.

All of us must take an active part in supporting and renewing our troubled societies, and there are three pillars which grandparents and the elderly are best qualified to provide, namely dreams, memory and prayer. There needs to be a covenant between the young and the elderly. For who better than the young can take the dreams of the elderly and make them come true? Keeping memory alive is the role of every elderly person because memory is the true foundation of everything we build. 

“Finally,” says the Holy Father, “your prayer is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently needs. As we continue to sail in the same boat across the stormy sea of the pandemic, your intercession for the world and for the Church has great value: it inspires in everyone the serene trust that we will soon come to shore.” Offering us the example of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, we are reminded that even in our solitude we can be a universal brother or sister.

“May each of us learn to repeat to all, and especially to the young, the words of consolation we have heard spoken to us today: ‘I am with you always’! Keep moving forward! May the Lord grant you his blessing.”

Yours in blessed hope,

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