Chances are, we who live in suburban Philadelphia will have a wonderful opportunity to see our Holy Father Pope Francis and receive his blessing in person next year!
A little more than a year from now, Philadelphia will be host to the Eighth World Meeting of Families. It will run from September 22 through September 27 of 2015. While the Vatican does not officially confirm visits by the pope further than about six months in advance, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has affirmed that Pope Francis has agreed to make a visit to Philadelphia during this special gathering of families.
The family is referred to as "the domestic church," the most fundamental of communities and one that is integral to society. The Church recognizes and supports the educational and apostolic mission of the family in transmitting the Faith. In 1981, Pope John Paul II founded the Pontifical Council of the Family in order to fulfill the needs of the Church's ministry to and for the family. The United Nations proclaimed 1994 the Year of the Family. In that year, Pope John Paul II wrote the beautiful Letter to Families, which can be read here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_02021994_families_en.html
The Church responded joyfully with the inception of the World Meeting of Families which has been held every three years since the first one convened in Rome in 1994.
Prior to his surprising resignation from the office of the Papacy, Pope Benedict announced that Philadelphia would be the host city of the 2015 World Meeting of Families, and he indicated at that time that he might attend. A Philadelphia delegation to Rome, including Archbishop Chaput, and a personal invitation from the schoolchildren of the archdiocese of Philadelphia seem to have won the reigning Pope's unofficial promise to visit.
The theme of the upcoming WMOF is "Love is our mission: the family fully alive!" In a recent article, Archbishop Chaput quoted St. Augustine as saying, "To be faithful in little things is a big thing." In the family, we are called to be faithful in all of the little things. It is in the family that the children are taught by word and example how to live the Christian life. Archbishop Chaput says, "Catholic families have a key role in God's healing of a broken world," and he hopes that the WMOF will be a new Pentecost for families, who carry Christ out into the world.
The website for the World Meeting of Families/2015, http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/
is a good resource for those who wish to follow the updates and plans leading up to the event in September, 2015, when we hope to welcome and greet our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
August 7, 2014