“The voice of the elderly is precious, because it sings the praises of God and preserves the roots of the people.” – Pope Francis
Responding to the invitation of the Holy Father Pope Francis who instituted the maiden World day of grandparents and the elderly on 25th July 2021, we the Sisters of Vijayawada Province celebrated this day with joy and gratitude uniting ourselves with the grandparents and the elderly world over.
It was the day of celebration and Jubilation for us the young sisters of the province to set apart this day for our elderly sisters. Yes, it was a unique occasion, to thank God for the valuable gift of grandparents and the elderly, in particular our elderly sisters for their priceless sacrifices and valuable contribution for the growth of our MSI family and for the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
Rightly the day falls on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, whose inspiration and experiences might have assisted Jesus’ journey on the face of the earth. Just like how the elderly sister’s presence and mission in the community keeps the Charism of our Institute growing. Because of which they deserve to be remembered, appreciated, recognized, prayed and honored.
“I am with you always” was the theme echoed all through the day. Decorated Chapel and the house reflected the festive mood. Elderly Sisters were invited by the young ones for the celebration with Sandal paste, Kumkum and with a badge.
Morning Prayer: The first step to honour them began with a solemn prayer service, in which the elderly expressed their homage and gratitude to God through various gestures, such as symbolic offering, performing arathi, praying psalms and hymns for the numerous years God kept them alive and used them in His service.
Holy Eucharistic celebration: With candle procession the elderly entered in the sanctuary for the Solemn Eucharistic celebration. Welcomed the priest and the gathering with kumba arathi as it is part of Indian Culture. The priests while breaking the Word of God, highlighted the following points in different communities.
- It is the duty of young ones to take care of the elderly
- They are the banks of Wisdom
- They are bridges connecting their past, our present and shaping our future
- Sharing with others is the miracle of multiplication. This miracle is witnessed in the life of our elderly sisters as they shared their lives without limit in all circumstances
- They were like ball in the hands of God who allowed God to intervene in their lives
Holy Eucharistic Adoration: The climax of the day was before the Eucharistic Lord. Besides being a moment of thanksgiving, it was also a moment of deep encounter with the Lord Where both the elderly and the young sisters exchanged their gratitude for the gift of each other in the community. Prayers of intercessions helped us to reach out to elderly in different parts of the world, who are neglected, sick, old, aged, lonely and abandoned.
Recreation: The elderly were escorted for the cultural event with band. They were given some challenging tasks and the winners were awarded with prizes. The final moment was the expression of our love, appreciation and acknowledgement which they deserve. Elegant and well-designed handmade cards, written with genuine words of admiration, titled with different names according to their typical characteristics in their own field of apostolate were presented to them.
Sharing of their Experiences: Their sincere sharing moved our hearts. The initial struggles of our MSI family in India, did not discourage them but helped them to grow in their faith and to live all the more the mission with passion. They embraced the suffering humanity with the weapon of prayer. They were faithful and fruitful because God was with them. Their lives, reminded us that old age is a gift and a link between different generation, to pass on to the young, the experience of life.
Planting: In few communities a sapling was planted to keep alive the memory of the day. A tree cannot stand without roots nor can it blossom without new life. Hand in hand young and old together we Journey!
Let us build our lives on Jesus. Let the prayer of the elderly protect our MSI family and let the life witness of young produce hundredfold in the vineyard of the Lord.
Sr. Kamala Ransom, Vijayawada