10,000 volunteers needed for papal visit, World Meeting of Families

If you’d like to make Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia for September’s World Meeting of Families as smooth as possible, are at least 18, and can pass a background check, then there is a job for you.

A hundred actually.

Registration to volunteer for September’s event opened online Monday on a first-come, first-served basis.

Director of Volunteers Suzanne Kinkel said the organization needs about 10,000 volunteers to help with more than 100 tasks, from greeting visitors in the airport to helping guide people through the subway, to setting up for the papal Mass.

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It won’t be a problem finding that many people, Kinkel said.

“Not at all,” said Kinkel. “We had over 2,000 people waiting for us to open up the portal, so I am very confident that we’ll meet the 10,000 goal.”

Organizers are looking for a mix of participation, from several days to even a single four-hour shift, said World Meeting of Families Executive Director Donna Crilley Farrell.

“We expect in the end that the lion’s share of volunteers will be from this region but, I have to say, we’ve had contact from all over the country,” said Farrell.

If you have a special skill, such as multiple language ability, the WMF will almost certainly find a spot for you to volunteer, she said, even if all the sections are filled up.

The online application takes less than five minutes to fill out, and confirmation takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. Volunteers are then able to select the events they’d like to help with.

Jillian DeFina, a senior at Neumann University who’s part of the campus ministry, said she had her eye on volunteering for the Mass. After the formal announcement at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Monday morning, DeFina headed back to her school to sign up.

“This is an amazing experience, and to be able to be a part of it and help in any way, I’m so excited for it,” said DeFina. “The Mass is something that’s very important to me, but I’ll help out in any way they need me.”

DeFina, who’s been to Italy twice and visited the Vatican, has never been lucky enough to meet the pope. 

But Farrell said not to hold out much hope of meeting the Holy Father.

“We’ve all seen him wade into the crowd, so we just don’t know at this point, but there’s certainly no guarantees,” she said.

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