There is an appointed time for everything, and a the plan of work with gifted children in English for every affair under the heavens. We are facing an unprecedented situation in the United States.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, one in every twenty-five people in the United States was 65 or older. Today one in eight—a total of 33. 2 million Americans—is at least 65. Both society and the Church are just beginning to grapple with the social, economic, and spiritual implications of this rapidly growing age group. The United Nations has designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons with the theme, “Towards a Society for All Ages. The Vatican, in its own contribution to the International Year, has urged Catholics to make a new commitment not only to care for older persons but to learn from them.
Inspired by this challenge, we, the U. Catholic bishops, offer this reflection on the experience of growing older within the faith community. We speak out of profound gratitude for the many ways in which faithful and generous older Catholics have built—and continue to build—the Church. We write as learners who together with older persons explore the period that some now call the “third age. 5 We learn from the many cultural heritages of our older people. Various customs, traditions, and contributions tremendously enrich the Church.