Pope Francis has yet to depart for the United States, let alone the City of Brotherly Love, but today marks the opening of the World Meeting of Families. People from all over the world have begun to file into Philadelphia for the international event, which has occurred every three years since 1994.
The event was most recently held in Bresso, Italy in 2012. CatholicPhilly.com reports the following facts about the last visit:
* 1,000,000 participants at Mass with Pope Benedict XVI in Bresso, Italy on June 3, 2012
* 350,000 participants at the Feast of Testimonies on June 2, 2012
* 200,000 people welcoming the Holy Father to Milan
* 5,300 volunteers for the World Meeting of Families (May 30 to June 3, 2012)
* 153 nations represented in Milan, Italy for the Seventh World Meeting of Families
The numbers are relatively unknown at the moment, but expected to be very large. In terms of the World Meeting of Families event, the numbers already appear to be larger than before. Already, people from dozens of countries have arrived.
Rebecca Forand of NJ.com caught up with director of marketing and communications for the World Meeting of Families congress, Lizanne Magarity Pando, who sees the event attracting the largest crowd yet for the congress:
“We have 17,000 registrants for the World Meeting of Families. The last one had only 7,000. This is the largest yet to date. The audience we are seeing has about 25 percent from outside of the United States with over 100 countries represented. Speakers will be translated into five languages — French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Vietnamese.”
On-site registration took place yesterday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and re-opened at 6:00 a.m.
The schedule includes a variety of speakers, most notably Bishop Robert Barron (just two weeks after his ordination as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles), Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and many others.
The youth congress will be hosted by Steve Angrisano. The theme song for the week, “Love is What We Need”, is an Angrisano composition available for download this week on the World Meeting of Families site. Catholic schools in Philadelphia are closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as are the Philadelphia public schools in anticipation of the traffic for this event.
Admission is $400 for the full package that includes a lunch buffet and registration for the congress on-site, to $95.00 for one day at the congress.
The opening liturgy this evening at 4:30 will be sung by the Archdiocesan choir under the direction of David Kimock, who will also direct the music at the Papal mass on Sunday.
The conference will offer mass today at 4:30, with masses at 8:30 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul will offer masses at 12:05 p.m. and 5:e0 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
God bless all families with unity, security and happiness.