World Meeting of Families officially launches in Philadelphia

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 Myriam Mwangi (center) and Katherine Gachanja of Nairobi, Kenya, celebrate as the World Meeting of Families officially opens in the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Myriam Mwangi (center) and Katherine Gachanja of Nairobi, Kenya, celebrate as the World Meeting of Families officially opens in the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The World Meeting of Families is officially under way in Philadelphia.  And a record turnout for the triennial international event is expected.

All around the Pennsylvania Convention Center Tuesday morning, delegates congregated. Many of the international travelers were dressed in traditional garb. 

In opening remarks, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said it’s a record turnout.

“Visitors from over 100 countries, who are participating in the World Meeting of Families Congress this week,” he said. “More than 17,500 people have registered for our gathering, making it the largest World Meeting of Families in history.”

In a variety of forums and sessions, Chaput said, delegates will discuss pressing issues.

“The challenge of child rearing; intimacy between husband and wife; finances; the care for people with disabilities and the elderly; the role of grandparents; the loss of a spouse or a child;  and even the effects of divorce,” he said.

The World Meeting of Families events, which continue through Friday, will be capped by the visit of Pope Francis Saturday and Sunday.

Questions still surround Sunday’s papal Mass, and organizers won’t say how many tickets have been given out for the special section closest to the altar.

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