First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly: Memory and Presence

Another initiative of Pope Francis is the establishment of this World Day on Sunday 25 July. The Holy Father wants to emphasise the importance of the role that so many grandparents play in accompanying children. At a time when so many parents are very busy with their professional responsibilities, the presence of grandparents to contribute to the spiritual awakening and formation of children is often decisive.

In his message addressed individually to each of the grandfathers and grandmothers, the Pope links their role to the words of Jesus to his disciples: “I am with you always.” This reassurance from the Lord is both a consolation for older people who, during the pandemic, were often - or still are - isolated, and an encouragement to become “guardian angels” for their grandchildren or other young people. According to Francis, older people are needed to build the future; they are not fixed in the past.Read the Pope’s message by clicking here.


How can the General Curia of the Society of Jesus mark this day? We thought we would ask a former staff member, now a grandmother, for her testimony. Hilda Onelia Serrano tells us, in all simplicity, how she lives this experience.

I am a long-distance grandmother but I firmly believe that the quality of time spent with loved ones is more important than the quantity of time spent with them. I have two grandchildren, aged 12 and 6, who live on another continent. I visit them once a year for two or three months. We don’t usually use the internet to communicate. What I find amazing and very exciting is how these grandchildren welcome me every time I arrive with big hugs, big smiles and lots of affection (both for me and for grandpa.) It is as if they sense through the distance my feeling of “I am with you every day” of which the Holy Father writes in his message to grandparents and the elderly on this 25 July.

My son and daughter also grew up with the experience of having grandparents at a distance and seeing them once a year in the summer. The attachment to grandparents and other relatives was intense and although the grandparents are long gone, their memory and the unity of the extended family is an integral part of their way of being today. “The foundation of life is memory” adds the Holy Father in his message and nothing could be truer. This is why, together with my sister, who is also a grandmother from afar, we have set out to write a book about our memories. We would like to leave our grandchildren a more detailed history of their roots and ancestors, so that the memory of the family will remain with them and they can pass it on to our great-grandchildren, because “without memory we cannot build.”

The Holy Father’s letter is a true source of inspiration.

Hilda Onelia Serrano
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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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