Cherish the Elderly, Enjoy Posterity –Bishop Okpaleke

By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba

As the world celebrated the 2021 Day for Grandparents and the Elderly last Sunday, July 25, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke, has enjoined all, especially the young ones, to cherish the elderly so as to enjoy posterity.

The Catholic Bishop, who made the call in his homily of a concelebrated thanksgiving Mass that concluded the 80th Birthday of an Obeledu-born renowned philanthropist and a water resource engineer, Dr Jonathan Kanayo OKoye, at Holy Trinity Parish, Obeledu, Anaocha LGA, advised against family decline owing to neglect of the elderly.

Citing Pope Francis’ message, Bishop Okpaleke noted that a family that failed to respect and cherish grandparents was already in decline while a family that cherished the elderly was blessed with posterity. He tasked the children and the youths to get closer to and listen to their aged parents and grandparents, noting that listening to the elderly would help them to be connected to their roots.

L-R: The Bishop of CADEK, Most Rev Peter Ebere Okpaleke (standing) giving the homily. Sitting centre, front row is the chief celebrant at the Mass, Most Rev Ernest Obodo, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Diocese with concelebrants, and a section of the elderly at the Mass, Holy Trinity Parish, Obeledu, July 25, 2021.

Pointing out that the best way to enjoy old age was to live it with God, Bishop Okpaleke enjoined the elderly to live in acceptance of their old age and grow with vigour in their spiritual life.

‘As you advance in age you must get closer to God through prayers, continuous good life and constant reception of the sacraments. God promised everyone long life, and most importantly salvation, so get closer to God for your salvation,’ the bishop advised.

The Catholic prelate, who also addressed the children of the octogenarian, continued, ‘You have seen people celebrate your father. You know him more than many of us. He needs you to listen to him more and be closer to him now. Celebrate him and pay important attention to his spiritual growth’.

Citing the likes of Adam, Seth and Metusaleh in the Book of Genesis Chapter 5 of the Holy Bible, the homilist noted that God destined old age for his people, but later sin decreased one’s life span. He however assured that despite the decline in age due to height of sin, God still had plan of new life for his people.

Most Rev Okpaleke, who further based his reflections on the gospel of the Sunday, reminded all of their call to be that ‘Andrew’ who would bring the people to God and help the youth. He explained that bringing the young boy who had few fishes and loaves of bread with him to Jesus, made the miracle possible.

He said Christ in the course of the miracle, touched the heart of people, and they supplied for the good of others who were in lack.

Meanwhile, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, had in his message for the establishment of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, said he established the celebration for the elderly so as to honour them and preserve the generational roots.

He regretted that grandparents were often forgotten and the wealth of preserving the roots which they represented were also forgotten.

‘The Holy Spirit arouses thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly today. Their voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and guards the roots of peoples. They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations to transmit to young people an experience of life and faith,’ Pope Francis said in the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Jan. 31, 2021.

Fides gathered that Pope Francis fixed the annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on the fourth Sunday of every July. The event is fixed close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne who are the grandparents of Jesus.