Bring your mitre and your bowling ball if you plan on coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families this fall, Archbishop Charles Chaput told 250 of his brother bishops June 10 at their General Assembly in St. Louis. The international gathering of families from across the world is set to take place in the fall and will include activities and events for all ages, the Archbishop of Philadelphia said. Bowling with Bishops is part of the youth congress activities, which include children ages six through high school. There’s also a Bishop’s basketball event, for those Church leaders who are a little younger and sprier. “All the activities are focused on catechesis connections, we’re very focused on making it not just a time of recreation and entertainment but a time to grow in the faith,” Archbishop Chaput said. The World Meeting of Families, which Pope John Paul II established in 1994, takes place once every three years in a different country, most recently in Milan in 2012. This year marks the first time the United States will host the event. “It’s a blessing for the archdiocese of Philadelphia and it’s a blessing for the United States as we can focus together on family life at a time when even the definition of family is confusing in the minds of many people,” Archbishop Chaput said. As of June 1, the number of registrants for the family events outside of the papal events reached 11,190. The last World Meeting of Families in Milan had only 7,000 final registrants. Besides U.S. families, the next three countries with the most representation at the event so far are Canada, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic, respectively. Most events will be in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish, Italian, French and Vietnamese. “It’s a truly international gathering of many languages, all of us united in our love for the family,” Archbishop Chaput explained. It’s not easy pulling off an international event, the pièce de résistance of which is Pope Francis’ visit. So far, the Church has fundraised $39 million of the necessary $45 million for the event, and the city of Philadelphia expects to see anywhere from 1 to 2 million people for the papal events during the last two days of the World Meeting of Families. (For comparison, the 2012 Olympics in London cost approximately $20 billion.) Pope Francis will arrive the morning of September 26, after visits to New York City and Washington, D.C., and is planning on celebrating Mass at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in downtown Philadelphia at 10:30 that morning. Later that evening, at 7:30, Pope Francis will attend the Festival for Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. At this event, several families from all over the world will give a brief testimony, and the Holy Father will have a chance to respond. On Sunday the 27th, the papal Mass will take place at 4:00 p.m. at the same location. When asked at a press conference whether other aspects of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States, such as his address to Congress, will become the real legacy of the Pope’s visit, Archbishop Chaput said he has been assured that the real reason Pope Francis is coming is for the World Meeting of Families. “I’m not just saying that because I’m from Philadelphia,” he said, “but he keeps telling us the real reason he’s coming is the World Meeting of Families so I take him at his word.” Registration for the World Meeting of Families is open, and more information can be found at: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/. The Archdiocese is also still looking for about 5,000 volunteers to help with the event.
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