‘Thrilled’ at news of papal visit, Philadelphia Catholics thinking big

by Matthew Gambino  |  published on November 20, 2014

After the historic announcement by Pope Francis that he will visit Philadelphia next September, the reality of the challenges and joys of the event is sinking in for planners, civic officials and ordinary Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

It will be a “once-in-a-lifetime chance for Philadelphia to shine,” Daniel Hilferty called the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which will be capped by the papal visit to the city. Chairman of the meeting’s Executive Leadership Committee, he said the event will require unprecedented coordination and support.

During a news conference at the Philadelphia Art Museum Nov. 17, the day the pope confirmed his visit at the Vatican, Hilferty called on the region’s business community to contribute financial and corporate support to the event.

He said the fundraising effort was “more than halfway toward the goal,” which he did not state. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said he plans to announce the status of fundraising efforts early in 2015.

That is just one of the issues facing organizers before next fall. One thorny issue had been the inability for people registering for the families’ meeting also to secure hotel rooms for the three days of the papal visit — because it was unconfirmed, the rooms were not made available. Now they can be booked.

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