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September 14, 2015

Wahlberg to host Festival of Families

Actor will join Pope Francis on stage

Actor Mark Wahlberg will stand alongside Pope Francis when he hosts the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, Sept. 26, the World Meeting of Families announced Monday.

Wahlberg, an Academy Award nominated actor known for his roles in Boogie Nights, Ted and The Fighter, will be joined on stage by musicians Aretha Franklin, The Fray and Marie Miller. Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and the Philadelphia Orchestra previously were announced as musical participants.

Several hours of pre-programming will include performances by comedian Jim Gaffigan and singer Jackie Evancho on stages at Eakins Oval and Logan Square. The pre-programming and Festival of Families will be shown on 40 Jumbotrons located throughout Center City.

Prior to the Festival of Families, Pope Francis will parade around the Parkway, providing pilgrims an opportunity to see him up close.

Wahlberg, lesser known for his early-90s musical performances in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, credits his Catholic faith for transforming his life. 

Wahlberg robbed a pharmacy, attacked several people inside and was charged with attempted murder as a 16-year-old in Boston. He spent time in prison, where he says his faith claimed a larger role in his life.

"My faith has allowed me to overcome a lot of things," Wahlberg told CNN's Piers Morgan in 2012. "And hard work. Nothing comes easy, especially when you have your back against the wall and have a lot of things coming at you."

The World Meeting of Families also announced the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale will be among several musical acts that will perform prior to the Papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27. Event organizers say these acts are designed to be "more spiritual in nature" than those appearing at the Festival of Families.