By Matthew Gambino
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) – Organizing for the World Meeting of Families and the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September has taken a major step forward with the announcement of the 15 committees and leadership charged with spearheading operations in hospitality, liturgy, volunteers and more.
Executives for the events including Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre and Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel Hilferty, who is a co-chairman of the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia, unveiled the committees and introduced their chairpersons at the IBX headquarters March 11.
The congress has already registered approximately 7,500 attendees, according to officials. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the United States and 150 countries are expected to register for the Sept. 22-25 congress. Up to two million people are also anticipated for the papal events, including a cultural celebration and Mass celebrated by the pope, Sept. 26-27.
The Diocese of Jackson has partnered with Proximo Travel to offer three different trips to the event. Unfortunately, fewer than two dozen people are currently signed up to go. One trip is an eight-day trip by air and includes hotel, most meals, registration to the World Meeting of Families and Mass with Pope Francis. The second trip is five days and includes airfare, hotel rooms, tours of Philadelphia, some meals and Mass, but does not include attendance at the conference. The final trip is a five-day trip by bus which includes Mass with the pope. The bus must be full in order to make the trip so it is important to reserve a seat early. Air travelers can fly out of any airport in the continental United States so parishes in any part of the diocese can arrange to fly out of the airport nearest to them. Exact details of each trip are posted on the Diocesan News section of www.jacksondiocese.org.
“I just think this is such a unique opportunity to get in touch with what we call the one, holy, Catholic church,” said Kami LeVern, of Proximo Travel.
“For some, the chance to see Pope Francis will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she added. As an added bonus, Proximo is donating profits from the trip to Catholic Charities.
The World Meeting of Families, held every three years, will come to the United States for the first time since it was begun by St. John Paul II in 1994. The aim of the congress is to strengthen the bonds of family life and highlight its value to society throughout the world.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in a statement that he was grateful to the people serving on the committees. “I’m confident that we will create a beautiful and memorable week for our families here in the Philadelphia region – and for families from around the world,” he said.
To join the diocesan trip to the World Meeting of Families, call LeVern at Proximo travel, 855-842-8001.
(Maureen Smith, editor of Mississippi Catholic, contributed to this report.)
By Matthew Gambino