Gazipur (Agenzia Fides) - The presence of grandparents and the elderly is still precious for families in society in Bangladesh. In particular in rural areas, families are still close together and the elderly live with children and grandchildren. But, due to progressive urbanization, many families who have moved to the city or abroad live without the presence of their grandparents. On the other hand, many elderly people are unable to adapt to city life and prefer to stay in rural villages. In this state, many of them are left alone in the last years of their life. In this social framework, the Catholic community in Bangladesh recently celebrated the "Day for grandparents and the elderly", with the aim of teaching affection and love for grandparents.
On the day celebrated on July 24, many parishes entrusted the elderly with a testimony or a sermon to address to the faithful. As Fides learned, in the community of Pagar in Gazipur, near Dhaka, Isidore Gomes, who is a grandfather, gave a speech during Sunday mass.
"The importance of the elderly person is immense - he said. In this era marked by new technologies and smartphones, children and grandchildren are busy with their devices that can widen the generation gap. It is important to take care of the elderly in the family", he explained.
Gomes, who lives with his children and grandchildren, said he knows of many cases where families move to the city and grandparents are left alone in the villages. "We, grandparents and elders, want to be with our family", he remarked. "We want to talk every day with our children and grandchildren. Due to our old age, many of us cannot go to church, priests come to our home and give us the Eucharist, but sometimes young people are not very inclined to visiting the elderly and grandparents", he said.
And he recalled: "As a young man I spent time with my parents. I met many elderly and I learned a lot from them", he said expressing gratitude. Death too must be a moment of joy, not mourning, he observed: "We must welcome the death of the elderly as a journey of joy, giving thanks for the time we had them by our side. The journey to eternal life will be light and joyful for them if their relatives stay with them in the last days of their life", he explained.
The president of the Episcopal Commission for family life, Msgr. Ponen Paul Kubi CSC, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and Bishop of Mymensingh, in a message sent to the parishes wrote: "The elderly are members of our family, society and the Church. They are important and the Church loves them. We hope that dialogue and harmony will develop between the new generations and the elderly. As the Pope says, the knowledge and experience of grandparents is precious for young people". According to 2019 data, more than 13 million people living in Bangladesh are over 60 years old, 8% of the country's total population of about 160 million. According to recent studies, most people over 60 in Bangladesh live in rural areas, where adequate health and social services are lacking, and job opportunities are limited. Over 50% of the elderly are widowed or live alone. (FC/PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/8/2022)