On Friday, September 25th, the VIII World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia ended. Many families continued arriving in town in order to see Pope Francis, who will attend the festival of the families on Saturday, September 26th, in the famous Benjamin Franklin Parkway, also known as the "Champs Elysees of the city of brotherly love" and to preside over the Mass the next morning, where nearly a million and a half people are expected.
The arrival of the Pope has increased the enthusiasm that could already be felt in the corridors of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and that was animated even more by the events that marked the day. First, in his homily at the closing Mass of the Congress, Archbishop Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, reminded all the families present that the World Meeting of Families is not just another event that repeats itself every three years but "these days are, in truth, a time of grace, a time of rebuilding, a gift from God." He encouraged them to "get to work," to daily face the difficulties of family life. "Get to work—he explained—means that it is no longer enough to keep doing what we have always done, that it is not enough to simply condemn the present and retreat to our own back yard. We need a new passion for the family, and a more generous and creative love to support it." He also urged the families to help one another, assisting especially the weaker ones, so that they may overcome loneliness and find new strength. Quoting St. Ignatius of Antioch, he reminded them how they are called to "the heroism of witness, the heroism of love, the heroism of holiness."
Also during the morning session, in the presence of nine thousand people, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, introduced by Pastor Rick Warren, pastor and founder of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, closed the Congress with his speech on "The Joy of the Gospel of Life," and told the stories of many families who, despite difficult and sometimes discouraging situations, live in the presence of Christ, the source generating joy for their lives and for their families. He also urged the families—as Msgr. Paglia did—to find "a new way to proclaim the Gospel in the contemporary world" and to be united, with the aim of transforming "the crowds in into a living community" that can witness to the beauty and joy of the Gospel.