Philadelphia, PA (November 14,2014)– The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 today packaged 10,000 letters from students across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to send to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in Rome, Italy. Ranging from beautifully crafted greeting cards to handwritten letters with emotionally resonant messages of love for their own families, students from across the Archdiocese created personal invitations to Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia in September 2015.
The packaged letters will be routed to Archbishop Paglia, self-proclaimed “Archbishop Mailman,” who during a May 2014 Press Conference at Roman Catholic High School, encouraged students to write to Pope Francis with the promise that he would deliver their messages.
Three students representing local Catholic elementary, secondary and schools of special education were in attendance at today’s event to receive recognition for their efforts from the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 and the Office of Catholic Education (OCE). After being thanked for their hard work, Emma Clift of St. Francis of Assisi (Springfield), Siani Colon of John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School (Philadelphia) and Miles Lee of St. Katherine Day School (Wynnewood) were informed that their letters had been hand-selected by the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 and OCE to be personally presented to Archbishop Paglia by Father William Donovan, the Liaison for Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. to the Pontifical Council for the Family.
The students were then shown a photograph, sent from Father Donovan in Rome, showing Archbishop Paglia receiving a package of letters from Archdiocesan students, including Ms. Clift’s, Ms. Colon’s and Master Lee’s. (Photograph below)
From Left to Right: Father Donovan, Archbishop Paglia, and Monsignor Carlos Simon Vazquez
“Every day we hear about the excitement for the 2015 World Meeting of Families, but there has been nothing more powerful than seeing the thousands of letters pour into our office asking the Holy Father to join us here,” said Mrs. Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015. “These letters, which were written with such love, joy and care, truly showcase our students’ great enthusiasm for Pope Francis and their great pride in wanting to welcome the world here next year. We are incredibly grateful that – with the help of Archbishop Paglia – Pope Francis will receive these letters and better know the joy a visit to Philadelphia would bring our students.”
In addition to sending 10,000 letters, Mr. Christopher Mominey, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Education (OCE), also officially announced that from Wednesday, September 23, 2015 to Friday, September 25, 2015 classes in Archdiocesan elementary, high school, and special education schools would be cancelled so that, teachers and families could participate in the World Meeting of Families. Archdiocesan schools have already begun preparing students for the September 2015 event through World Meeting of Families lesson plans based on the preparatory catechesis and a multitude of activities are being planned for students and families across the Archdiocese during these three days, including a region-wide Day of Service. With the decision, to cancel classes OCE aims to encourage real engagement of the World Meeting itself and its supporting programs.
“We have almost 60,000 students in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and when I walk through the halls of any one of our schools, I can feel the students’ palpable excitement when we discuss a possible visit to Philadelphia by Pope Francis,” said Mr. Mominey. “The World Meeting of Families is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we want to ensure that our students, with their families, have the chance to attend the many exciting events associated with it. This is a wonderful opportunity to reinvigorate families and to, hopefully, welcome a transformative world leader to our great city. To me, there is no greater learning experience for our students than participating in this truly global event.”
For moreinformationregarding theWorld Meetingof FamiliesinPhiladelphia next September, please visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org. An online retail store, featuring t-shirts, hats, pins and other small mementos, is also open and can be accessed at http://wmof.myshopify.com/. You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).
About World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.