Announcing the World Meeting of Families’ 15 committees and their leadership March 11 at the Independence Blue Cross headquarters in Philadelphia are, from left, Daniel Hilferty, co-chair of WMoF and CEO of IBX; Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of WMoF; Auxiliary bishop John McIntyre; and Robert Ciaruffoli, WMoF president.

Organizing for the World Meeting of Families and the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia in September took a major step forward with the announcement today, March 11, of the 15 committees and leadership charged with spearheading operations in hospitality, liturgy, volunteers and more.

Executives for the events including Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre and Independence Blue Cross CEO Daniel Hilferty, who is a co-chairman of the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia, unveiled the committees and introduced their chairpersons at the IBX headquarters in center city.

The congress has already registered approximately 7,500 attendees, according to officials. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people from the United States and 150 countries are expected to register for the Sept. 22-25 congress. Up to 2 million people are also anticipated for the papal events, including a cultural celebration and Mass celebrated by the pope, Sept. 26-27.

To manage such big crowds, planners intend the committees to begin working on multiple issues at this point six months ahead of the September events.

The World Meeting of Families, held every three years, will come to the United States for the first time since it was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1994. The aim of the congress is to strengthen the bonds of family life and highlight its value to society throughout the world.

Some committees address obvious needs of accommodating and moving large numbers of visitors to the city, such as the Welcome Committee, the Government Outreach Committee and the Visa and Immigration Committee.

Others, however, point to the unique nature of the families’ congress such as the Hunger and Homelessness Committee, the Parish and School Preparation Committee and the Youth Congress Committee.

In addition to discussions and activities about families at the congress, attendees will also want to see the sights of the Philadelphia region, details of which will be handled by the “GO PHILADELPHIA!” committee. It will highlight the special programs to be provided for the congress and papal visit by the numerous cultural, historical and family-friendly organizations in the region.

The Papal Events Committee is an obvious need, as is the Volunteer Committee. Many volunteers have already contacted the World Meeting of Families organization, whose officials expect to need about 10,000 helpers to meet the events’ many needs.

Since each volunteer must be vetted for security and assigned to tasks that match the person’s skill set, an online registration system will be set up in the spring at the World Meeting of Families website, which continues to accept registrations for the congress.

At least two committees not included in the announcement but alluded to in a statement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia involve two of the biggest concerns: moving people around and making sure all those people, and especially Pope Francis, are safe.

Transportation will be coordinated by regional authorities including SEPTA, Amtrak, NJ Transit, PATCO and Philadelphia International Airport. Security concerns will be managed by a large and diverse group of governmental agencies including at least the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania State Police departments, state and federal agencies such as the Secret Service, plus security details from Italy and the Vatican.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said in the statement that he was grateful to the people serving on the committees. “I’m confident that we will create a beautiful and memorable week for our families here in the Philadelphia region — and for families from around the world,” he said.

The archbishop praised “the willingness of business, civic and cultural leaders to become engaged. Whether Catholic or of another faith tradition, they have responded equally with open hearts, great enthusiasm and strong commitment,” he said.


The committees and their leadership include:

Communications and Marketing
Chair: Tod J. MacKenzie, senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, Aramark Corporation; Vice-Chairs: A. Bruce Crawley, president and principal owner, Millennium 3 Management, Inc. (M3M) and Jay Devine, president and CEO, Devine + Partners.

Chair: Eustace Mita, CEO, Achristavest; Vice-Chairs: Ward Fitzgerald, managing principal and CEO, Exeter Property Group, and Lucille Francesco, chair, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Gala.

Co-Chairs: Meryl Levitz, president and CEO, VISIT PHILADELPHIA and Sharon Pinkenson, executive director, Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

Government Outreach
Chair: Steve Fera, senior vice president, public affairs, Independence Blue Cross; Vice-Chair: Michael J. Tierney, partner, Dilworth Paxson LLP.

Health Resources
Chair: Jerry M. Francesco, D.Ph. chair, Board of Trustees, the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia; Vice-Chair: Karen Alston, RN, MSN, MBA, executive vice president and chief nurse officer, the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia.

Housing Committee (Vatican, PCF, VIPs, and AOP Housing Specific)
Chair: Father Paul Kennedy, pastor, St. Katherine of Siena Parish, Philadelphia; Vice-Chair: Sister Virginia Rozich C.S.F.N., regional contact of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Hunger and Homelessness
Chair: Sister Mary Scullion, executive director, Project HOME; Vice-Chair: Anne Healy Ayella, associate director, Nutritional Development Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Liturgy Committee
Chair: Father Gerald Dennis Gill, director, Office for Divine Worship and rector, Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Vice-Chair: Dr. John Romeri, director, Office for Liturgical Music, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Liturgy Sub-Committee: Liturgical Music
Chair: Father Gerald Dennis Gill, director, Office for Divine Worship and rector, Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Vice-Chair: Dr. John Romeri, director, Office for Liturgical Music, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Papal Events
Co-Chairs: Karen Dougherty Buchholz, senior vice president of administration, Comcast Corporation, and Josephine Mandeville, chair and president, the Connelly Foundation; Vice-Chairs: Varsovia Fernandez, president and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Katie Keating, community leader; Dr. Keith Leaphart, president and CEO, Replica Creative; and Amelia Q. Riley, senior manager, Comcast Corporation.

Parish and School Preparation Committee
Co-Chairs: Meghan Cokeley, director, Office of the New Evangelization, Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Christopher Mominey, chief operating officer and secretary for Catholic education, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Visa and Immigration
Chair: Father Bruce Lewandowski, C.SS.R, vicar for cultural ministries, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Vice Chair: Mark Shea, Esq., administrator, Immigration Program, Catholic Social Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Chair: Alison Grove, principal, Grimm and Grove; Vice-Chair: Patricia Schwartz, executive director PennSERVE: The Governor’s Office of Citizen Service.

Welcome Committee
Chair: Jack Ferguson, president and CEO, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau; Vice-Chair: Greg Fox, board chairman, Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority Partner, Montgomery McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP

Youth Congress Committee
Chair: Father Stephen P. DeLacy, Vocation Office for Diocesan Priesthood, Archdiocese of Philadelphia; Vice-Chair: Sister William Catherine Brannen, I.H.M., Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

A key leader of the Philadelphia congress, executive director Donna Crilley Farrell, called the meeting and papal visit a “once-in-a-generation event” and thanked the committee leaders giving their time and talent.

“It is encouraging to see our community come together to deliver such an important event for our city, our state and our nation,” she said. “Truly, we are indebted to those who have agreed to lead committees for the World Meeting of Families and to all who will serve on these committees moving forward. It is their efforts which will make this event so incredibly special.”