Papal Visit Playbook for Parents
Activities and information for the World Meet of Families
Here's a look at activities, closures and background information parents should know about for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27 in Philadelphia.
What is the World Meeting of Families?
The Pope’s visit is the capstone of this triennial congress. Founded in 1994, the WMF is a multi-day gathering at which Catholic families from all over the world meet and pray together to discuss “the Christian family’s role in the church and society.” In 2013 Pope “Emeritus” Benedict XVI selected Philadelphia as the conference’s site. This marks the first time the WMOF will take place in the United States.
A spotlight on parenting themes
In keeping with the WMF 2015 theme —“Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive” — many speakers at the Adult Congress taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from Sept. 22-25, the days prior to the Pope’s appearance, will address faith-based parenting topics. Items on the agenda include “Procreation as Co-Creation: The Spirituality of Parenting,” “In the City: Concerns of the Urban Family” and “Navigating the Net: The Benefits and Obstacles of Being an Online Family.” Register at Worldmeeting2015.org (advance registration ends Sept. 15); child care is available for younger kids of parents attending the main conference.
Philly’s Catholic schools cordially invite. . .
The Pope’s attendance at the 2015 WMF may be at the bequest of the city’s Catholic school students, 10,000 of whom hand-crafted letters and cards inviting the pontiff to come to the City of Brotherly Love. Philly’s 122 Catholic elementary parish, regional, mission and high schools will be closed for the entire week of the WMF. As of press time, Philly public schools will also be closed on both Wed., Sept. 23 (to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur) and on Fri., Sept. 25 (as street closures prior to the Pope’s appearance will make getting to and from difficult). Additional days off may be added, depending on real-time traffic and crowd necessities.
. . . and welcome the Pope
Marching bands from two Archdiocese schools — Cardinal O’Hara and Bishop Shanahan High Schools — have been hand-selected by the Vatican to perform for the Pope when he arrives at and departs from the airport.
Youth en masse
WMF organizers expect the participation of about 3,000 kids, ages 6 to 18, in the Youth Congress that runs parallel to the adult event at the convention center. In addition, many area Catholic school students are volunteering to prep and run Youth Congress events.
It’ll be a zoo
Faithful families eager to avoid the logistical issues inherent with an event of this scale have gone to great lengths to position themselves for a papal audience. Students and parents from several NJ parishes, for example, have booked lodging at the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo crew will be sleeping on the floor of the bird and insect exhibit buildings — and posting pics of their unusual sleepover in hopes that the Pope takes notice and invites them for a meet-and-greet.