Bishop Kemme Offers a Letter to Grandparents for World Grandparents Day
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The names, Henry and Celeste, Edward and Louise may not mean much to you but those names evoke in me emotions of deep gratitude and respect. They are the first names of my dear grandparents, all of whom I knew and loved very much. I am thinking of them in a special way because Pope Francis has designated the 4th Sunday of July as World Grandparents Day. It is the closest Sunday this year to the memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, the maternal grandparents of Jesus.
In his beautiful message to grandparents and elderly friends, Pope Francis reminds them that they are not alone. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” In this time of pandemic with its associated isolation, many people feel alone, especially the elderly, those in nursing homes and those confined to their own homes. Many grandparents today are separated by long distances or estrangement from children and grandchildren. Pope Francis is reaching out to them with words of consolation and solidarity.
He wrote, “Even at the darkest times, as in these months of pandemic, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us: “I am with you always.” “At times, those angels will have the face of our grandchildren, at others the face of family members, lifelong friends or those we have come to know during these trying times, when we have learned how important hugs and visits are for each of us.”
Pope Francis goes on to say that grandparents have a special and unique vocation and service in the world. “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. Because there is no retirement age from the world of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren.” “At this crucial time in history, you have a renewed vocation.” “Given this, I want to tell you that you are needed in order to help build, in fraternity and social friendship, the world of tomorrow: the world in which we, together with our children and grandchildren, will live once the storm has subsided.”
On a personal note, I owe much of my vocation to the priesthood to my grandparents, whose simple faith and perseverance through very difficult times inspired me to give my life in service to the Church. They were faithful in marriage and family life. They adored us, their grandchildren and even spoiled us to some extent. We adored them. I am convinced they prayed for me each day when I went to the seminary, feeling such pride in their hearts that one of their grandsons would desire to become a priest. I wonder what joy must fill their hearts in heaven as they see all of us fulfilling our lives as we make our way steadily to be with them in the glory of eternal life.
I urge you all to spend time with grandparents, even if it is by phone, FaceTime or zoom. Do not let a week pass, if your grandparents are living, to connect with them. They have much to teach us by word and example and we have much we can do to alleviate their loneliness and suffering.
Finally, I ask that all grandparents who have died be rewarded with eternal life. Happy Grandparents Day this year on July 25, 2021. St. Joachim and St. Anne, pray for us.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme