Faithful of northern Colorado who wish to travel with other pilgrims to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September have an opportunity to do so through two trips being organized in the archdiocese.
The archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries and St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial are each assisting in coordinating a pilgrimage from the Mile High City to the City of Brotherly Love for the Sept. 23-28, 2015 gathering that will be highlighted by a public Mass celebrated by Pope Francis Sept. 27.
The Holy Father officially confirmed his attendance at the WMF last month. Before the pope’s announcement, the international meeting was expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Denver 1997-2011, said with the papal visit, he expects crowds to reach 1 million.
“It will be wonderful to be with Pope Francis on his first trip to the United States,” said Mary McGeehan, events and hospitality coordinator for the Office of Evangelization, particularly for families because “he has something to offer every generation.”
St. John Paul II launched the WMF in 1994 to gather families from all over the world to dialogue and pray about ways to strengthen their bonds. Every three years since, the event has been held at the Holy Father’s invitation at venues including Italy, Brazil, Philippines, Spain and Mexico. When Philadelphia hosts, it will be the first time the gathering has been held in the United States.
“They’re really going to make it family friendly,” McGeehan said of the meeting that includes an adult congress for those 18-plus, and a youth congress for children 6-17.
The meeting will feature daily Mass, break-out sessions and keynote speakers including Catholic heavyweights such as Father Robert Barron, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., and Helen Alvare sharing the “most pressing topics facing families today,” McGeehan said. It will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Sept. 22-25; followed by a festival of families Sept. 26; and concluding with the papal Mass Sept. 27 celebrated at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“Anyone is welcome to come with us and bring back the fruits and graces of the World Meeting of Families,” McGeehan said. “It’s a chance to really immerse yourself in your faith, and to celebrate family in our world.”
Pilgrimage fees include airfare, hotel, breakfast, sight-seeing and shuttle service to attend the WMF sessions. Archbishop Samuel Aquila will celebrate 9 a.m. Mass Sept. 24 at St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Philadelphia for Denver pilgrims.
For more information on the World Meeting of Families, visit www.worldmeeting2015.org. To register for one of the pilgrimages, visit www.rtijourneys.com. Registration is encouraged before Feb. 15, 2015.