Mark Wahlberg, Aretha Franklin To Attend Pope Event In Philadelphia

It will be a star-studded Festival of Families.

Pope Francis will be the main act at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this month. But a host of other celebrities are lining up to make the event doubly spectacular.

Mark Wahlberg, Aretha Franklin and The Fray are joining the lineup of celebrities performing at the event, The World Meeting of Families announced on Monday. Wahlberg, a lifelong Catholic, will serve as the host during the Festival of Families on Sept. 26,  Aretha Franklin and The Fray are set to perform for the Holy Father.

The event is intended to be a joyful celebration of "family, community, and faith," according to the World Meeting of Families. Pope Francis will kick off the festival with a parade from Philadelphia's Eakins Oval to and around City Hall.

The Fray, a rock group with Christian roots known for their album and single "How To Save A Life," posed with a sign that read "I'll Be There" -- part of a campaign by the same name launched by Philadelphia city officials and organizers of the World Meeting of Families to build enthusiasm for the upcoming papal visit.

The World Meeting of Families announced in June that Colombian musician Juanes, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform at the Festival of Families, as well.

Catholic comedian Jim Gaffigan will also perform as part of the Festival of Families pre-programming, along with Sister Sledge and Jackie Evancho, a runner-up on the fifth season of “America’s Got Talent." 

Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families -- Philadelphia 2015 said she hoped the impressive schedule would make the event "unforgettable for all who attend."

“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,” Crilley Farrell said in a press release.

Pope Francis arrives in Washington D.C., for his first U.S. visit on Sept. 22. He will also visit New York City and Philadelphia, where the World Meeting of Families event is taking place all week. His trip will culminate in two major public appearances: the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 and a Mass to conclude the meeting on Sept. 27. Both will take place on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway and are open to the public. 


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