Resources for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly

06 Jul 2021

Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place for the first time on Sunday 25 July 2021 on the theme ‘I am with you always’ (Mt 28:20). Click below for resources for use in dioceses and parishes which have been collated by the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family. 

A warm welcome for the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly 

Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family has welcomed Pope Francis’ World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, as a timely reminder for the whole Church to be close to all the elderly and grandparents at this time of pandemic. 

Bishop Nulty said, “There have been so many unsung heroes and heroines during the pandemic – grandparents and elders, including our older priests and religious – all who are to be applauded for how they have coped with the challenges and uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.  As a society we have learned a lot from their stoicism and pragmatism in the face of so many challenges.

“Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has reminded us to value the many gifts of grandparents and the elderly.  In his theme chosen for this inaugural year I am with you always, the Holy Father is highlighting that promise of closeness that generations share with each other.  Not only are our young people called to be present in the lives of older people, but so too grandparents and elders have a mission to encourage young people on their faith journey.  Our little domestic churches are always enriched by the inclusion of grandparents and elders.

“In the text of his inaugural message Pope Francis expands on this theme and assures us that he has been close to all those who have felt isolated and alone in recent months and that, even at the darkest of moments, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us that ‘He is with us always’.  Pope Francis tells us that these angels sent to console us will at times have the face of our grandchildren, while at other times, 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.” 

Bishop Nulty concluded, “The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is being celebrated for the first time this year as part of a special Year on the Family to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).  I would love to see parishes in every diocese across the country celebrating grandparents, elders, not forgetting our older priests and religious, who have given lives of dedicated service to their families and communities.  I would also encourage parishes to ensure that their local nursing care home is included in this annual celebration.”

Video message from Pope Francis 

Video Message from Bishop Denis Nulty 


The Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family are offering the following links to resources for parishes and dioceses planning to mark the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly: 

Plant a Tree in their memory 

The Catholic Grandparents Association is inviting families and parishes to ‘Plant a Tree in their Memory’ on Sunday 25 July.

By planting this tree, families and parishes have a chance to remember all those grandparents and elders, including elderly priests and religious, who have passed away after a lifetime of dedication, love and service to their families and parishes.

The tree planting could be a small private and prayerful event in the garden of a family home or it could be something that takes place in the grounds of the local parish church.

The planting ceremony could take place after Mass for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

A well known quote reminds us that ‘Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago’. Not only is this a wonderful way for families and parishes to honour grandparents and elders, it is also a wonderful way to give something to future generations. 

Click here to download the leaflet and prayer service for the Plant a Tree in their Memory initiative. 


Social Media Visuals and official hashtag 

The following social media visuals are offered for use to promote the central theme of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.  The official hashtag for the event is #Iamwithyoualways 



Plenary Indulgence 

On the occasion of the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, Pope Francis is granting a Plenary Indulgences to grandparents, the elderly and all the faithful who participate “motivated by a true spirit of penance and charity.”

The Apostolic Penitentiary explained that “in order to increase the devotion of the faithful and for the salvation of souls,” grandparents, the elderly and the faithful will be able to obtain a Plenary Indulgence on the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated on 25 July 2021.

The note says that the Pope has granted this possibility after having listened to the request presented by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, marking the establishment of the World Day that will be observed every year on the fourth Sunday of the month of July.

The Plenary Indulgence will be granted under the usual conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer, according to the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff during the solemn celebration he will preside over in St. Peter’s Basilica or at the various functions that will be held throughout the world.

The Plenary Indulgence will also be granted on this same day to the faithful who devote adequate time to actually or virtually visiting their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty (such as the sick, the abandoned, the disabled and other similar cases),” the note reads.

Signed by the Major Penitentiary,  Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, and by the Regent, Kryztof Nykiel,  the Plenary Indulgence may also be granted to those who are unable to leave their homes for serious reasons and “unite themselves spiritually to the sacred functions of the World Day, offering to the Merciful God their prayers, pains or sufferings of their lives, especially during the transmission, through the means of television and radio, but also through the new means of social communication.”

Useful links relating to the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly 


Note: These resources will be added to between now and 25 July, so please do check back here!