By Father Charles Fuld
Mark your calendars, all you grandparents and elderly men and women, because Pope Francis has designated the fourth Sunday in July — this year, July 25 -– as the “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.” In so doing, he recognized the important role these men and women play in passing along their faith in our Catholic Church.
Look around you the next time you get to Church. You will surely notice, as I have many times, the number of elderly people present, often leading the way in for the whole family. Yes, children sometimes wonder, “Why am I here? I could be out playing.” And parents may have their problems as they scurry to meet all the challenges of the day. It’s the grandparents who often best recognize the importance of getting to church, having learned so after years of struggle and after coming to their own realization of the importance of their faith in God in their lives.
Yes, we often forget about our grandparents and the long lives they have lived. Sometimes, they live far away. But when we come together, we love to hear their stories, stories about being soldiers or nurses in “the War” and how God spared their lives, about how their grandparents came together, about everyday miracles as they survived in good times and in bad before there were computers or iPhones. Maybe they told stories about how they received their First Communion and suddenly felt so close to God, or how they felt as they witnessed the baptism of their first child.
For some years now, I’ve been working on a book I call “Grandpa’s Stories.” I’ve asked a dear friend to see to it that it is published someday after I’m gone. No, I don’t expect it to be a “best-seller” or anything like that. It would be a privately published book that I want to pass on to my kids and grandkids (yes, I’m one of those widower priests) so that those stories (about being a youngster, a Naval officer, a husband, a parent and, eventually, a Catholic priest) will not be lost or forgotten and be of some use to them as they seek out what is truly important in their lives.
Your stories are a great gift to all those you dearly love. And it’s up to kids and grandkids to listen, and not just on World Day for Grandparents.
Father Charles Fuld, who retired in November, served as managing editor of The Southern Cross for 12 years.