Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Joins Thousands in Philadelphia for World Meeting of Families

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
23 Sep 2015

World Meeting of Families officially underway

"The streets of Philadelphia are filling with happy, holy families. There is an incredible variety of pro-life and pro-family events, talks, exhibitions, concerts, symposiums. Too many great choices! This is the World Meeting of Families and it is wonderful."

This was the feedback from the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP on his arrival in Philadelphia in the United States for the eighth World Meeting of Families - an  event which was conceived by St John Paul II to explore family bonds and the role of families in society.

On Tuesday Archbishop Anthony  joined thousands of families from more than 100 countries for the Opening Ceremony inside the Pennsylvania Convention Centre.

Although 18,000 people are registered for this year's event, including a group of around 40 Australian families and pilgrims, organisers expect more than 500,000 at three- day event and the closing concert, the Festival of Families on Saturday.

Bishop Robert Barron gave the first address after the Official Welcome

More than one million are expected at the Mass on Sunday with the Holy Father Pope Francis who has just arrived from in Washington from Cuba. He was met by President Obama at the start of his six-day trip which will also take him to New York and then Philadelphia.

Also in Philadelphia is the Australian Bishops' Delegate for the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale and the Council's co-chairs, Dr Ron and Mavis Pirola.

Supported by the Holy See's  Pontifical Council for the Family this World Meeting of Families is under the banner of "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive".

Families, pilgrims, clergy and religious poured into the Grand Hall at Centre for the Opening Ceremony. Many coming from as far away as the Philippines, Argentina, Nigeria, Vietnam - and Australia. Many more from Europe and North America.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput welcomed everyone saying; "What happens this week is a celebration, not about the past, but the future. The lesson is simple. God remakes the world through the people and families who love him."

Archbishop Chaput was then presented with  a gift for the Holy Father - a white "Breezer" bicycle with a chain guard shaped like angel's wings. Although the Pope was seen getting into a modest, small Fiat car when he landed at Washington's Andrews Air Force Base which then joined the Presidential limousine  line-up, it is not known if the Breezer will get a Papal work out on the cobblestones of Rome.

In Washington Pope Francis was welcomed by President Obama and his family

Following the Official Welcome, the newly ordained Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was the first guest speaker.

Archbishop Fisher said;" His big idea is that 'the image of God' is not a private treasure but a mission and responsibility - to share God with the world. No faith or philosophy offers humanity a high view of its purpose."

Bishop Barron's address was followed by  Mass with all the Cardinals, Bishops and priests present including Archbishop Anthony.

Other guest speakers during the week prior to Pope Francis' arrival on Saturday include Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley; Los Angeles Archbishop Jos Horacio Gomez; Professor Helen Alvare and Dr Scott Hahn.