VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Calling homes for retired priests and nuns “sanctuaries of holiness,” Pope Francis asked Catholics to visit those who spent their lives sharing the Gospel and caring for others.

In his morning Mass homily Oct. 18, the pope described retired clergy and religious as “good priests and good sisters, aged and bearing the weight of solitude, waiting for the Lord to knock on the doors of their hearts.”

“Let’s not forget them,” he said during the Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, according to Vatican Radio.

Pope Francis spoke about how Moses, John the Baptist and St. Paul all endured suffering, but the Lord never abandoned them.

They were filled with energy when they began their service, he said; then challenges came and eventually the end of life.

Pope Francis said when he thinks of the closing days of St. Paul’s life, “My heart remembers those sanctuaries of apostolicity and sanctity, rest homes for priests and sisters.”

He said Christians can make a pilgrimage by visiting the elderly priests and nuns, who “wait for the Lord a bit like Paul: perhaps a bit sad, but also with a sense of peace and a happy face.”

The 76-year-old pope told those at the Mass, “It would do us all good to think about that final stage of life … and pray to the Lord: Watch over those who are facing that moment of the final letting go so that they could say once again, ‘Yes, Lord, I want to follow you.'”