World Grandparents Day to Benefit “forgotten ones of our society”: Zimbabwean Cleric

Fr. Limukani Ndlovu visiting an elderly man in Zimbabwe. Credit: IMBISA

The international day to honor grandparents and the elderly, which Pope Francis established earlier this year to be marked in July is set to benefit senior citizens who, in a number of African contexts, have been abandoned by members of the society, a Zimbabwean Catholic Priest has said.

At the end of January this year, Pope Francis announced the establishment of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly to be marked every fourth Sunday of July. This year, the newly instituted event is set to take place on July 25.

In a Tuesday, May 18 reflection, Fr. Limukani Ndlovu says that the event “will be a wake-up call for all missionary disciples to pay special attention to the grandparents and the elderly who, in many cases, are like the forgotten ones of our society.”

“The new day in the Church calendar is a momentous achievement for grandparents and the elderly. It is refreshing to note the renewed commitment by the Church for the pastoral care of the elderly,” Fr. Ndlovu says in the reflection published by The Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).

He adds that the annual commemoration will serve to reassure grandparents and other elderly persons that they are loved and needed.


“It is a fact that grandparents and the elderly have suffered greatly especially during the COVID-19 pandemic due to being isolated from family, their faith community and many of their daily supports as they are regarded to be in the high-risk category,” Fr. Ndlovu says.

While Zimbabwe’s Constitution outlines the State’s responsibility towards the elderly, the Priest notes, “One wonders if the government is really committed to alleviating the plight of the elderly especially when they brave the cold nights in the queues for their meagre pensions.”

“It would be pastorally, spiritually, emotionally and socially uplifting to join the world in marking 25 July as a momentous day in our ecclesial communities, Small Christian Communities and even at family level,” he says in reference to the inaugural celebration.

To prepare for the event, the people of God can reflect on Amoris Laetitia, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis on love in the family, which addresses the pastoral care for family members including the elderly, Fr. Ndlovu recommends.

Members of church institutions including parishioners can be asked to “share names of grandparents and elderly members of their family who are no longer in a Parish Book of Remembrance and update it (the book can be brought to the altar at the start of Mass),” he further recommends.

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The youth and members of parish editorial teams “may interview grandparents and the elderly in order to create an archive of faith stories,” the Zimbabwean Cleric says in his May 18 reflection.

He adds that the day can be marked liturgically through “creative prayers, intercessions, homilies; we may also use the Pope's Prayer for grandparents and the elderly; host a Mass of thanksgiving focusing on the celebration of grandparents (invite grandparents to participate in the Mass physically or virtually).”

“Parishes can host a recollection, Novena or Holy Hour for grandparents and the elderly prior to Sunday 25 July,” Fr. Ndlovu says, adding that it would be better to hold some of the prayers in Latin as they “will bring back the joys of their old memories!”

There are many ways that senior citizens can be celebrated, the Priest says, and adds that the most important aspect is how they are treated because it “should be such that when they die, they die smiling and grateful.”

“The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children: ‘Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you’. In the Torah, keeping this commandment was associated with individual benefit and with the ability of the nation of Israel to remain in the land to which God was leading them,” Fr. Ndlovu says in his May 18 reflection.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.