A Philadelphia company will produce the World Meeting of Families' two closing events on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this fall that will be attended by Pope Francis.
ESM Productions, an event production company in Center City, has been appointed to manage and execute all facets of the Festival of Families on Saturday, Sept. 26, as well as a papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, organizers of the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 announced today. The city anticipates two million visitors for pontiff's visit, his first to the United States.
The terms of WMOF's contract with ESM Productions would not be disclosed, consistent with procedure on all contracted vendor announcements for WMOF, according to Kenneth A. Gavin, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,
ESM Productions, which brings a quarter-century of experience to the WMOF event, has produced a number of showcase events nationally, including presidential events, historic gatherings, music variety television, and festivals. The company has been active in planning various events on the Parkway, and produced the Phillies' World Series Parade in 2008.
"In under seven months, Pope Francis will be standing on the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway overlooking the millions who come together to share in this once-in-a-lifetime moment," said Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the WMOF - Philadelphia 2015, said in a statement. "It will truly be the largest event in Philadelphia's modern history and to ensure its flawless success, we enlisted the top tier talents of Scott Mirkin and ESM Productions. With an extensive resume of high-profile event execution, there is no doubt in my mind that ESM will deliver an outstanding experience for every single person on the Parkway."
Co-sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families is an international event held every three years to strengthen the "sacred bonds of family" around the world and emphasize its value in society. The theme of WMOF, to be held in the United States for the first time, is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."
"Being tasked with the responsibility to plan and execute the papal events on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is an absolute honor and privilege," said Scott Mirkin, ESM Productions president and co-founder, said in a statement. "When Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in Philadelphia's Logan Circle in 1979, it was an event unlike any the city had ever seen and one that people still talk about with reverence and affection to this day. Now, 35 years later, Philadelphia will once again welcome and embrace the Holy Father, and ESM Productions is fully committed to producing two inspiring events that every Philadelphian will be proud of – and that every visitor in attendance will never forget."
On Sunday, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput appeared on ABC News' This Week program to give some behind-the-scenes details of the pope's visit. One significant change from when John Paul said Mass on the Parkway more than three decades ago - altar placement.
In an interview with ABC's David Wright, Chaput said Francis would say Mass from an altar constructed at the other end of the Parkway, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Wright asked Chaput what he wanted to show the pope during his visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
"I'm looking forward to showing him an active, vibrant church in the United States," Chaput said.
In terms of rebuilding the church in Philadelphia and the United States, how much will the pope's visit help? Wright asked Chaput.
"I was the bishop of Denver, Colorado, in the period right after the World Youth Day where Pope John Paul II came to Denver, and that was a extraordinary, transformative moment in the life of Denver and the broader community," Chaput said. "And I am hoping with reasonable expectation, I think, that the visit of the Holy Father here will be the beginning of a new, evangelical energy here in the church of Philadelphia."