The official icon for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, painted by Kennett Square artist Neilson Carlin. (Sarah Webb)

The First Sunday in Advent is an early threshold even for the great celebration of Christmas. This year in Philadelphia it will be an early threshold event for quite another celebration — the World Meeting of Families in September 2015.

The 6:30 p.m. Mass on Sunday, Nov. 30 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul will begin the season of Advent and the church’s new liturgical year. The Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in the context of Cathedral Parish’s 40 Hours devotion and be preceded by a Holy Hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at 5:30 as an opportunity to pray for the needs of families all over the world.

During the Mass all families in attendance will receive a replica painting of the Holy Family which is the official image for the World Meeting of Families painted by Neilson Carlin. Archbishop Chaput will bless the replicas for everyone.

Also a newly commissioned hymn for the World Meeting of Families, “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom,” will make its official debut.

“Make this Holy Hour and Mass the capstone of your celebration of Thanksgiving,” urged Meghan Cokeley, director of the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization. “Celebrate Sunday Mass at the cathedral with Archbishop Chaput and receive a blessed replica of the World Meeting of Families iconic image to take home with you.”

Assisting at the Mass will be families who hope to participate in the various events of the World Meeting next year.

Ann Post, of St. Genevieve Parish in Flourtown, along with her husband Robert and children Madeleine, Julia, Max and Benjamin, will be among those serving as ushers.

The World Meeting of Families “is an important time for all families,” she said. “Families are under attack and it is important to see Catholic families who love their faith. We hoped to register and volunteer as a family. This is a wonderful time for things to be happening.”

Another family that will be assisting at the Mass in the offertory procession and distributing icons is the family of Scott and Liz Parrish of Sacred Heart Parish in Hilltown. Six of their eight children will be there — Emily, Katie, John, Suzie, Michael and Daniel; Andrew and Brian are away at college.

“I’m excited the Holy Father is coming here, and Archbishop Chaput has said it is a call for the Holy Spirit to be there,” Scott Parrish said. “Anything that will build up the family and this Mass is a terrific way to start off Advent.”

This won’t be the first time the Parrish family has seen a pope. “We took them to World Youth Day in Spain (in 2011) when Pope Benedict was there,” Parrish said.

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Prayer for the 2015 World Meeting of Families

God and Father of us all,
in Jesus, your Son and our Savior,
you have made us
your sons and daughters
in the family of the Church.

May your grace and love
help our families
in every part of the world
be united to one another
in fidelity to the Gospel.

May the example of the Holy Family,
with the aid of your Holy Spirit,
guide all families, especially those most troubled,
to be homes of communion and prayer
and to always seek your truth and live in your love.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!