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There was entertainment, there was testimony about the struggles of family, but the man who has taken Philadelphia by storm was on hand for the Festival of Families on the Parkway Saturday night. Pope Francis was the crowd pleaser as he arrived to the Parkway aboard the Popemobile, as the crowd snapped photos and cheered.

The Pope heard from six families coming from as far away as Jordan to as close as New York about their joys and struggles. In the end, Pope Francis – deeply moved by the stories of commitment to family – scrapped his prepared remarks and spoke as a pastor in defense of families. He advised couples to turn to grandparents for wisdom and each other. And, like a gentle uncle, advised couples never to end the day angry, but instead settle their disagreements in peace.

Actor Mark Wahlberg hosted The Festival of Families. Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin performed for the Pope, along with the band “The Fray.” Wahlberg, Franklin, and The Fray joined a lineup that includes Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Former Philadelphia Eagle Herb Lusk read from Luke 15 to share the story of the Prodigal Son with the audience. Comedian and author Jim Gaffigan also performed earlier in the evening.

This was one of Pope Francis’ several public events Saturday. Earlier, he celebrated mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul and delivered a speech at Independence Hall. As he blessed the assembly – which included thousands watching on screens down the Parkway – the Pope quipped “see you tomorrow.”  [philadelphia.cbslocal.com]


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Officials announced on Monday that actor Mark Wahlberg will serve as the host for The Festival of Families with Pope Francis on September 26 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

It was also announced that Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin will perform for the Pope, along with the band “The Fray.”

Officials say Marie Miller, singer and finalist in the 2014 Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star Competition, has also been added as a performer.

Mark Wahlberg, Aretha Franklin, The Fray and Marie Miller join a lineup that includes Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

“When we first envisioned The Festival of Families, we could have never anticipated such an extraordinary line-up of talent would be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.

“We are deeply honored to have Mark Wahlberg serve as our host and we are thrilled to have the legendary Aretha Franklin and the immensely popular band, The Fray, join us in Philadelphia for Pope Francis’ visit. Undoubtedly, their presence – with Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra –will make this evening truly unforgettable for all who attend.”

The World Meeting of Families also announced several hours of pre-programming that will take place on two stages (Eakins Oval stage and Logan Square Stage.)   Read the rest of this entry »