Philadelphia, Pa., Jan 7, 2015 / 02:08 am
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia observed the feast of St. John Neumann on Monday, and celebrated the year that the city will welcome Pope Francis for the upcoming World Meeting of Families.
"St. John Neumann was a humble man of God whose focus on bringing immigrant families to the Church is as important and salient today as it was in the 1850s," Bishop John McIntyre, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, said during his homily at the Jan. 5 Mass, said at the saint's shrine.
Bishop McIntyre said Mass and blessed the new atrium and time capsule of the National Shrine in North Philadelphia. During the celebration an Italian Christmas carol, 'Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle', was performed in honor of the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the city.
Drawing the connection between St. John Neumann and the World Meeting of Families, Bishop McIntyre noted in his homily the similarities between the saint's legacy of Catholic education and immigration ministry with the mission of the family.
"As we prepare for the World Meeting of Families, it is appropriate that St. John Neumann's home – Philadelphia – serve as host, especially as the issues of immigration and the manifestation of faith in global cultures remain critical to families around the world," the Bishop stated, saying that the spirit of St. John Neumann would continue to inspire the work in planning for the event.
"The Holy Father embodies St. John Neumann's inviting message to pilgrims just as the World Meeting of Families does," Bishop McIntyre stated, saying "we look forward to welcoming upwards of 1.5 million people from various cultures and faiths to share in this faithful gathering, which will be a once-in-a-generation event for our Archdiocese, our city, and our state."
Following the celebration of Mass, Mayor Michael Nutter joined Bishop McIntyre for the blessing of the new atrium, which was read in English, Spanish, and Italian to honor the immigrant ministry of St. John Neumann.
Together, the mayor and Bishop placed the flags of the U.S., Vatican City, Pennsylvania, and Argentina; students from St. Peter the Apostle School added flags from the countries whence their families had emigrated.
The World Meeting of Families started in 1994 as a triennial global event, aimed to strengthen the family and emphasize the value they bring to society. Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families has previously been held in Rome, Rio de Janerio, Manila, Valencia, Mexico City, and Milan.
This year, Philadelphia will host the event in the United States for the first time, Sept. 22-27, with an official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families being "Love is our mission: the family fully alive."
More than 10,000 delegates from 150 countries are expected to attend the Congress of the World Meeting of Families at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Pope Francis' visit from Sept. 26-27 could draw over 2 million people.