WEST PALM BEACH | On Jan. 31, Pope Francis established World Day for Grandparents and Elderly, which will take place annually on the fourth Sunday in July, coinciding with the feasts of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
Pope Francis recalled the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple when the elderly Simeon and Anna encountered the child Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. “The Holy Spirit even today stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly,” the pope said, adding the voice of the elderly “is precious … because it sings the praises of God and preserves the roots of the peoples.”
This is a Christian value that students at St. Ann School in West Palm Beach recognized and honored during Catholic Schools Week in late January 2021, when a day was dedicated to celebrating the value grandparents bring to the Catholic faith and family life. Schools typically invite grandparents to visit campus on this day for a special Mass, luncheons and special school activities. But since many students could not celebrate with their grandparents due to COVID-19, Danielle Twist, a second grade teacher and religious director at St. Ann School, collaborated with classroom teachers to create video greetings for grandparents living near and far.
“Since St. Ann is the grandparent of Jesus, she’s also the grandparent of the Church,” Twist said. “I thought it would be nice for us, as a school, to give grandparents the opportunity to see their grandchildren and preserve those relationships, even if in a small way.”
Students were thrilled to be making video messages for their loved ones. “A couple of students were talking about how they didn’t get to see their grandparents for Christmas, which, for some, is the only time they get to visit,” Twist said. “One family shared with me that their grandmother usually travels from New Jersey specifically for Grandparents Day. The family said their grandmother was teary-eyed and was so appreciative after watching the video message.”
The videos made include a variety of messages, songs, lists of reasons why the students love their grandparents, prayers and more. Father Nestor Rodriguez, pastor, and Father Dennis Gonzales, parochial vicar, opened the video with a greeting and special prayer on behalf of the grandparents who could not be there for Catholic Schools Week.
Father Rodriguez prayed, “May grandparents continue to be, for their families, strong pillars of Gospel faith, guardians of the noble domestic ideals, and living treasures of sound religious traditions. That they may pass on the fruits of their mature human and spiritual traditions to the younger generations.”
To learn more about St. Ann School, visit stannwpb.org or call 561-832-3676. Follow the school on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @stanncatholicschoolwpb. Stay connected with the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Palm Beach online at diocesepbschools.org. For updates on the 18 diocesan Catholic schools, follow the office on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DoPBCatholicSchools.