Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 25, 2015 / 11:09 am
Musicians, comedians, performers and artists from the around the world are eager to reinforce the message of the family and God's love – as well as to perform for Pope Francis.
"We are not worthy to enter under @Pontifex's roof but trusts he has the word for healing!" Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of Jim Gaffigan, mother of five, and and executive producer of the Jim Gaffigan Show, tweeted to CNA.
Jim Gaffigan will be performing his comedy act for Pope Francis on Saturday, Sept. 26 during the Festival of Families, before a prayer vigil at the World Meeting of Families. Joining Gaffigan and host Mark Wahlberg will be soul musician Arethra Franklin, popular American rock band "The Fray," Colombian rock star Juanes, Italian opera singer Andrea Bochelli, contemporary Christian artist Matt Maher, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, and over a dozen other performers.
Marie Miller, a popular folk artist as well as a Catholic explained that when she initially sought to attend the World Meeting of Families, she was trying to go as a pilgrim, not as a performer, she told CNA. After calling the archdiocese to ask about tickets, "They called me up and said 'hey do you want to sing for Pope Francis?' and I said 'Sure!'"
"It really was a miracle. I was looking for confirmation that I was doing the right thing, and that definitely felt like one," she added.
When she performs for Pope Francis, she will play some of her own songs as well as traditional bluegrass and gospel songs, in order to introduce him to "a taste of American music" not heard elsewhere in the world.
Miller said that as a Catholic, she views this and all of her performances as a chance for evangelization. Even when singing songs about friendship and love, she explained, "it reminds me that underlying that all the time, it reminds me that my call is to bring people closer to God through beauty."
Joni Sledge, a member of the disco musical group Sister Sledge (composed of three sisters) told CNA that it is "an absolute honour to have been invited to perform for Pope Francis."
"We have tremendous respect and admiration for Pope Francis's bold and generous expression of God's love for all people.
Some of the group's hits, such as "We Are Family," Sledge continued, as well as the fact that they are a family as well as a musical group, also reinforce the message of the World Meeting of Families.
"Moreover, through life experience we have come to realize that we are 'all' family," Sledge added.
"Together we must stand in unity as sisters and brothers for the betterment of humankind. Every woman, man and child has the right to receive God's love. We look forward to doing what we do best on the 26th September in the presence of Pope Francis uniting and rejoicing families the world over."
Matthew Hadro contributed to this report.