What Philadelphians celebrated two weeks ago in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, the rest of the world discovered Sept. 16 in Rome, Italy as Archbishop Charles Chaput presented the preparatory catechesis, prayer and iconic image for the 2015 World Meeting of Families to the Pontifical Council for the Family during a press conference at the Holy See’s press office in Rome.

The archbishop was joined by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the council, as well as Tom and Barbara Riley, parishioners from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The couple spoke at the news conference about their five children, the impact of their Catholic faith on their daily lives as parents and why the upcoming World Meeting of Families, Sept. 22-27, 2015 in Philadelphia, is so significant.

Archbishop Paglia accepted the preparatory materials for the world meeting, which will form the spiritual and educational foundation for delegates worldwide who will come to Philadelphia.

“I am greatly pleased to share these important preparatory materials for the World Meeting of Families with the Pontifical Council for the Family and the world,” said Archbishop Chaput. “We have worked diligently to create spiritually resonant, relevant and accessible content for everyone who will join us in Philadelphia next year. It is my deepest hope that not only Catholics but all people of good will might connect to our theme through reading, discussion, prayer and reflection based on these preparatory materials.”


Inspired by the words of the early Church father, St. Irenaeus, “the glory of God is man fully alive,” the theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families — “Love is our mission: the family fully alive” — reflects the central role of the family in teaching people how to receive and give love. Serving as a unifying concept for its portfolio of preparatory materials, the theme is intended to drive catechetical content and programming for the World Meeting of Families.

The preparatory catechesis is traditionally developed by the host diocese for the World Meeting of Families and reflects authentic Catholic beliefs about human dignity, human sexuality, marriage and the family. Like the World Meeting of Families conference itself, the preparatory catechesis is intended for people of all ages and aims to address the issues and challenges facing families around the world.

It not only forms the basis for programming and discussion at the World Meeting of Families but also is used to create lesson plans for elementary and high school students in Catholic schools so that they may engage these materials in an age-appropriate manner.

The complete book is available in both English and Spanish and can be purchased online from its publisher, Our Sunday Visitor.

The official prayer for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is meant to aid delegates around the world in their spiritual preparation for the event. Accessible via the 2015 World Meeting of Families’ web site in 18 languages including American Sign Language, the prayer is meant to serve as a vehicle of hope and faith for families.

Widespread daily recitation for the success of the event and for personal intentions is encouraged. The prayer is foundational to both the conference’s theme and its planned content.

Lastly, the World Meeting of Families has produced a definitive iconic image for the event. The painting is a work of sacred art meant to encourage reflection and prayer. Artist Neilson Carlin, based in Kennett Square, was commissioned to create the oil painting of the Holy Family depicting Mary, Joseph and Jesus as a small child, as well as Mary’s parents, SS. Anna and Joachim.

The four-by-five-foot canvas was formally unveiled and blessed by Archbishop Chaput Sept. 7 and is on display in the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Philadelphia now through the conclusion of the 2015 World Meeting of Families. Those viewing the painting at the cathedral are encouraged to pray for families around the world by reciting the official prayer and lighting a votive candle at the adjacent Marian Shrine.

“With the World Meeting of Families just one year away, I believe that the preparatory catechesis, prayer and iconic image can begin to help focus all of us on the family in deep and meaningful ways,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The discussions of September 2015 will, without doubt, be thoughtful, insightful and robust. These materials, as guided by our theme, will give purpose and direction to these important forthcoming conversations.”


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!