In September, Pope Francis will be coming to visit Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States.
He will be in attendance for the World Meeting of Families 2015, an event that will bring together Catholic families from across the globe. This year, the theme is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
In a November 2014 press release, following the pope’s official announcement during the Humanum Colloquium in Italy, World Meeting representatives relayed the Vatican’s confirmation of his upcoming visit. Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, shared that he was “overjoyed” by the news, stating, “I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us…together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways….We will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts.”
The World Meeting of Families will occur from Sept. 22-27. The pope is anticipated to arrive on Sept. 25 for the closing events, including the Sunday Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Final details on when he will be in Philly are forthcoming in the spring or summer.
While he will be the fifth pontiff in papal history to visit the United States, he will be the first to come to Philly since John Paul II in October 1979. For this reason, experts predict as many as two million people will be in attendance on Sunday.
Consequently, many will be faced with the challenge of finding a place to stay during the event. Since the 10,500 hotel rooms in Center City are not expected to accommodate two million people, Philly residents are being encouraged to house attendees. Homestay, a company that connects travellers with hosts all around the world, is aiming to enlist the help of 10,00o families to house visitors for $30-50 per night.
The World Meeting of Families will feature two assemblies, the Adult and Youth Congresses, in addition to speakers, topical sessions and daily mass. Chaput comments that with the “hallmark of his papacy [being] a keen focus on the many challenges that families face today globally, [the pontiff’s] charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering.”
During his address at the Humanum Colloquium, Pope Francis thanked listeners for their prayers as he prepares for his upcoming visit to Philadelphia “according to the wishes of the Lord.”
Sources: NBCPhiladelphia.com, WorldMeeting2015.org