Pope Francis recorded a video encouraging everyone to come to Philadelphia for his visit next weekend, Saturday, Sept. 26 to Sunday, Sept. 27.
“I look forward to greeting the pilgrims and the people of Philadelphia when I come for the World Meeting of Families,” the pope said in the brief video. “I will be there because you will be there! See you in Philadelphia!”
Archbishop Charles Chaput called the video “humbing and beautiful,” noting that it comes just days before his arrival in the United States, a visit capped by his final stop in Philadelphia.
“His personal call to each of us and his desire to be with all during his visit to Philadelphia is deeply moving” the archbishop said. “I hope that all who hear his words will allow them to touch their hearts and be compelled to join in this moment of grace, love and community. Simply put, this moment will not come again.”
The papal visit in Philadelphia will conclude the Eighth World Meeting of Families, being held in the city starting Tuesday, Sept. 22. The congress’ dozens of speeches, breakout sessions and informal discussions among participants concerning the role of family in society will wrap up Friday, Sept. 25, followed by the papal events of Saturday and Sunday.
Already, the World Meeting is being touted as one of the most successful since the first such congress, held every three years in a different city. The World Meeting of Families was begun by St. John Paul II in 1994.
The 17,500 registrants for the congress in Philadelphia are double the number of the last congress in 2012 in Milan, Italy, according to organizers.
Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the Philadelphia World Meeting, said that while she was “immensely touched” by the pope’s video message, she was not surprised by his “personal and loving gesture.”
“It is Pope Francis’ willingness to engage us all at such a human level that defines his papacy,” Farrell said. “I have no doubt that the Holy Father’s personal invitation to all will be met with a resounding response from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”
Pope Francis arrives Saturday morning in Philadelphia. His first stop will be the 10:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, followed by many public and private events during his stay.
Visit CatholicPhilly.com often throughout the week for stories, photos and videos on the World Meeting of Families this week, and all the events of the papal visit next weekend.