Get ready to spend a day this summer celebrating the grandparents in your life.
An international day of celebration for grandparents and the elderly has now been instituted by the Pope, Vatican News reports.
Beginning 2021, the day of celebration will be held on the fourth Sunday of July each year.
The calendar placement puts the international day close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, who were the grandparents of Jesus.
Pope Francis announced the new annual day for grandparents Sunday.
"The Holy SPirit even today stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly," says the Pope while recalling the events following Jesus' birth where Simeon, who was elderly, met Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah.
He also says the voice of the elderly is "precious" for singing the praises of God and remembering familial histories.
"(The elderly) 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."
The Pope says he instituted the day to help prevent grandparents and the elderly from being forgotten, emphasizing the wisdom they have to share.
Vittorio Scelzo, who is involved with the pastoral care of the elderly within the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, says celebrating grandparents worldwide connects to the days Pope Francis has established to celebrate the Word of God and the poor.
Scelzo says these are the three priorities of the Pope for the future of the Church.
"The eldery are not saved by themselves," Scelzo says. "Unfortunately, we have seen during the pandemic how many elderly were not saved.
"In order to come out of the crisis better and not worse, every society needs to come to terms with its roots and develop a new synthesis of its values, starting also from dialogue with the elderly."
COVID-19 restrictions in many provinces have prohibited visitation to nursing and assisted living homes to limit transmission of the virus. In Manitoba, elderly people living in such homes have been among the first to be vaccinated against the virus.
"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 realize this," Scelzo says.
The first annual worldwide day of celebration of grandparents and the elderly will take place on July 25, 2021.