World Day for Grandparents, Elderly: Bishop in Zambia Lauds “wisdom of the elderly”

Bishop Benjamin Phiri of Ndola Diocese in Zambia. Credit: Ndola Diocese

Bishop Benjamin Phiri of Ndola Diocese in Zambia has cautioned against the tendency to despise and neglect the elderly in society, and lauded them for their wisdom. 

In his message for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which Pope Francis established in January 2021, Bishop Phiri says, “More often than not, the elderly and the aged of our society are despised, abandoned and called all sorts of names that, apparently, may suggest that they are irrelevant to us.”

“When we make a critical introspection of ourselves and analyze how society is standing today, we indeed need the wisdom of the elderly among us,” the Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Ndola Diocese further says in his July 15 message ahead of the Grandparents and Elderly week in the Zambian Diocese to conclude on July 23.

He continues in reference to the elderly, “They may look tired, fragile, and less productive but society really needs them because of the experiences they have had (both good and bad); which makes them not only good mentors but also good companions in all spheres of our society.”

Pope Francis established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly to take place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Anne and Joachim.


This year, the theme of the event is, “His mercy is from age to age”, taken from Luke 1:50.

The Holy Father is set to preside over Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the grandparents’ day. Ahead of this celebration, Pope Francis has invited Parishes, Dioceses, associations, and communities around the world to celebrate the day “in their own pastoral context.”

In his message, Bishop Phiri says that the July 16-23 Grandparents and Elderly week in Ndola Diocese offers an opportunity to “appreciate the elderly and the aged of our society.”

He invites the people of God under his pastoral care to “dedicate the whole week beginning from 16 to 23 July, 2023, towards this noble celebration.”

He further directs that the celebration be guided by specific themes, including “The abandoned and the lonely” for July 17-18; “Mistreated and prisoners” for July,19; “Terminally ill and the physically challenged” for July 20; the “Dying in homes and hospices” for July 21; “the deceased elderly and the aged” for July 22; and finally for July 23, “His mercy is from age to age.”

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These suggested themes, the Zambian Catholic Bishop who turned 64 on June 14 says, “may be used even during petitions.”

The Diocesan celebration in Ndola Diocese is to take place on Saturday, July 22, and in all Parishes on Sunday, July 23.

In his message, Bishop Phiri appeals to the people of God “not only to help but also to pray for the aged and the elderly of our society. By so doing, God will surely bless us.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.