Franciscan University Alumni and Faculty Involved in Papal Visit


A press release from my alma mater…

Franciscan University Students to See Pope in Philadelphia

Franciscan Alumni and Faculty Also Involved in Papal Visit

STEUBENVILLE, OH— More than 220 Franciscan University of Steubenville students along with three Franciscan TOR priests and several Franciscan TOR sisters will travel to Philadelphia for the September 27 open-air Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The four busloads of students will leave at midnight on Saturday, September 26, and arrive near dawn to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the site for Pope Francis’ final public event on his visit to the United States. Prior to the 4:00 p.m. Mass, the Franciscan contingent will join the expected 1-2 million people who will take in live music, speakers, and a Papal Procession, all viewable from more than 40 jumbotrons set up along the parkway.

Franciscan alumni participating in the celebration include musician Mark Griswold ’91, the founder and director of FireHill Worship, a praise and worship band based in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and Martin Doman ’96, director of Praise and Worship Music Ministry at Ave Maria University. Both will join seven other bands that will entertain the huge crowd leading up to the Mass on Sunday.

Three speakers leading breakout sessions at the World Meetings of Families taking place in Philadelphia the week before the papal visit have ties to Franciscan University. On Wednesday morning, September 23, Dr. Greg ’89 and Lisa ’89 Popcak, authors and co-hosts of Ave Maria Radio’s More2Life program, will speak on “See How They Love One Another: The Family and the Faith.” Dr. Scott Hahn, Franciscan University’s Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, will speak on Thursday, September 24, on “Back to the Garden of Eden: Unearthing God’s Covenant With Humankind.”

Kelly Schaffer, a senior philosophy and theology major from Whitehouse, Ohio, is one of the Franciscan students making the trip.

Schaffer says, “It will be so enriching to be able to hear the Holy Father speak to the United States specifically, and hopefully address some of the spiritual issues we as a country are facing today.”

During his visit to Philadelphia, the last leg of his six-day U.S. visit, Pope Francis will also give a speech on immigration in front of Independence Hall, attend the Festival of Families, visit the city’s largest prison, Curran-Fromhold, meet with seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.

For live streaming video and news updates on Pope Francis’ visit to North America, visit

World Meeting of Families: So What? Who Cares? What’s In It for Me?



The World Meeting of Families (WMOF) is an international event occurring every three years since it’s inauguration in 1994.  Convened by the Pontifical Council for the Family which was founded by St. John Paul II in 1984 to promote family well-being around the world, the World Meeting has been hosted by Rome in 1994, Rio de Janeiro in 1997,  Rome again in 2000, Manila in 2003, Valencia, Spain in 2006, Mexico City in 2009 and Milan in 2012.  The 2015 Philadelphia Congress will be the first time the WMOF will be hosted by the United States.


According to organizers, the Philadelphia Congress will be the best attended WMOF since its founding, with upwards of 20,000 registrants attending the weeklong event that begins Tuesday, September 22.

Although sponsored by the Catholic Church, WMOF is an ecumenical event dedicated to promoting the well-being of families everywhere.  It will be attended by Church leaders, family life ministers, psychologists and social service professionals, researchers, and families from around the world.

Family Issues

This 2015 WMOF occurs at a time when family life faces its most radical challenges, from efforts to redefine the very nature of what constitutes family life to the fact that even so-called traditional families largely have ceased to function as cohesive units in any meaningful way.  In the post-modern era, extra-curricular activities, school and work are largely expected to provide the socialization, education, formation and fellowship that family life was formerly expected to provide.  Families have been reduced to accessories.  We have them but we do not expect to have to work at them.

Pope Francis has been addressing this crisis in family life throughout his pontificate, telling parents that too many children have become “orphans within the family” because their parents are choosing to spend their time and energy elsewhere.  On several occasions, Pope Francis has challenged parents to simply “waste time” with their children, so that true intimacy can develop between parents and children and families and

WMOF Agenda

 The theme for the 2015 Congress is Love is Our Mission:  The Family “Fully Alive”   The theme draws from St Irenaeus’ famous quote that “The glory of God is man, fully alive” and points to the fact that family is the place that each human being is formed in both love and personhood.  Healthy families produce healthy people and a healthy society.  The meeting will give famlies and family professionals an opportunity to “waste time” with each other  so that they can more effectively encounter the culture and call attention to the importance of being intentional about family life so that it can become what it is; the foundation of a just, loving, healthy society.

CONFIRMED–HISTORIC Record Breaking Attendance at 2015 World Meeting of Families


Today on More2Life Radio, we were blessed by a visit from Dr. Mary Beth Yount, the Director of Content and Programming at the World Meeting of Families.  In addition to telling our listeners about the event itself, she revealed the BREAKING NEWS that this year’s World Meeting of Families has over 15,000 people currently registered for the week long congress, making the 2015 World Meeting the highest attended World Meeting of Families ever!

That number is expected to climb by several more thousand over the next 40 days leading up to the event. In addition to the many thousands of people registered for the week-long congress featuring dynamic speakers and activities, organizers are expecting that a crowd of 3 Million people will attend the papal mass which is being held atop the so-called “Rocky Steps” leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.   In anticipation of the record-breaking attendance, local hotels have made additional rooms available to accommodate guests.

The World Meetings of Families was instituted by St. John Paul the Great in 1994 and is held every 3 years in various locations throughout the world.  This September’s meeting will feature many internationally-recognized speakers including my wife, Lisa, and I, on the topic, See How They Love One Another:  The Family and the Faith.   Lisa and I will also be broadcasting More2Life Radio LIVE from Booth 206 at the Congress.  In a recent surprise, I was also honored to be asked by Bishop John McIntyre to introduce Word on Fire’s Bishop-Elect Robert Barron at his Opening Keynote Address to the Congress on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, titled Living as the Image of God.

I’m likewise pleased to be able to say that many regular contributors to More2Life Radio will be also be featured presenters  at the World Meeting including Damon Owens, Dr. Joseph White, and friend-of-the-show, Christopher West.  And. of course there will be many other wonderful speakers as well,  including members of the Catholic Patheos community, including Simcha Fisher and Sue Muldoon.

There’s still time to register for the event.  We’ve saved space for you!   Hope to see you there!