Philadelphia, September 22, 2015 — During the opening ceremonies for the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, Mayor Michael A. Nutter delivered remarks welcoming to Philadelphia pilgrims from all over the world who will participate in the conference. Mayor Nutter also presented Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput with two gifts to be given to Pope Francis when he arrives in the city this weekend. The Mayor’s prepared remarks follow, check against delivery:
“It has begun – the start of the most historic event in modern Philadelphia history. The first ever World Meeting of Families in the United States of America…right here in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. I want to welcome the joyous pilgrims here to our great city.
I want to thank Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families and Robert J. Ciaruffoli, President of the World Meeting of Families. Donna makes up one-third of what I call the ‘Tireless Trio” planning the World Meeting of Families events, along with Brian Tierney and Meg Kane – thank you for the work you have done for this.
I want to thank John McNichol, the great Pennsylvania Convention Center and its board for hosting the World Meeting of Families conference. Thank you to all of the elected officials near and far who partnered with us to make this event successful, especially Governor Wolf and Governor Corbett. And I want to recognize Police Commissioner Ramsey and Fire Commissioner Sawyer for their hard work.
I also want to thank all of our cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, novices, clergy and the faithful joining us from around the world, especially Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Lastly, I want to thank the members of my team from the City of Philadelphia, my ‘Pope Planning’ team: Everett Gillison, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Chief of Staff; Desiree Peterkin-Bell, Communications Director and City Representative; Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, Phila. Police Department; Samantha Phillips, Director of Emergency Management; and Jazelle Jones, Deputy Managing Director for Special Events.
I am filled with joy for the events which will take place this week, but no matter how great the events or who I have met on this journey, I’m still just a kid from West Philadelphia who attended Transfiguration of Our Lord parish and Saint Joseph’s Preparatory High School. My mother and her twin sister are graduates of Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School. This is an incredible personal and professional moment and honor for me, and more importantly, our city. Never in my life did I ever imagine an event of this significance in our city, let alone that I would be Mayor at the time.
The City of Philadelphia is honored and excited to host the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, a conference that brings together people from all over the world in celebration of the family – the sanctuary of love and life.
The World Meeting of Families is bringing more than 20,000 people here to Philadelphia for the congress this week, and more than 3,500 national and international journalists for the Papal Visit this weekend.
There is an energy on the streets. Earlier today I greeted a family from the Dominican Republic and took photos with a group of nuns from Puerto Rico.
Philadelphia is the perfect place for the World Meeting of Families because Philadelphia has always been a place of diversity and tolerance, a city of neighborhoods anchored by thousands upon thousands of families.
Founded in 1682 by William Penn, Philadelphia was a place of religious tolerance where anyone could worship freely. Penn, a Quaker, wanted his colony this way because he had experienced religious persecution for his own beliefs in England and knew there was a better way.
In time, people of many faiths worshipped alongside each other and those historic houses of worship clustered in Old City can still be seen and visited to this day.
In fact, Christ Church, the Free Quaker Meeting House, Old St. Mary’s Church, Old St. Joseph’s Church (the first Catholic Church in the city), Mikveh Israel synagogue and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church are just of few of the houses of worship dating back to the 18th & 19th centuries that still have active congregations that you can visit while you’re here.
We are also a city of “firsts” in America, innovations like the first fire insurance company, first library, first hospital, first fire department and the first university – so it is appropriate and fitting that we are the first American city to ever host the World Meeting of Families.
The Vatican and the Pontifical Council on the Family chose Philadelphia for this honor under Pope Benedict in 2012. This is the reason why Pope Francis is coming to the United States, to be here in Philadelphia for this conference.
As the Holy Father said in the video released on Sunday, ‘he’ll be here because we’ll be here, in Philadelphia’.
The World Meeting of Families conference theme this year is “Love is Our Mission: the Family Fully Alive”. What better place to celebrate loving God and one another than in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection?
As host City for the World Meeting of Families and the city in which Pope Francis will make the most public appearances, including celebrating mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday, we wanted to present gifts of our appreciation to the Holy Father for blessing us with his presence.
As Mayor, I am presenting these gifts to Archbishop Chaput so that he, in turn, may present them to Pope Francis on behalf of our City.
First, I am honored to present a beautiful, hand-crafted ivory bone china bowl by Lenox, an American tableware and giftware company based in the Philadelphia region. It features a 24-karat gold border. I want to thank Peter Cameron, CEO of Lenox.
The Declaration of Independence inspired the overall appearance of this piece, from the color palette to the hand-written script found on the inside rim. To create the special appearance, the images were illustrated in the style of old lithograph-printing techniques.
Independence Hall — home of the Declaration of Independence — and St. Peter’s Basilica — home of the Holy See — are illustrated on the sides to symbolize the unification of our two cities.
The essence of the values shared by His Holiness and the founders of our Nation are written on the inside of the bowl; the important practices of Liberty, Friendship, Unity, Peace, and Love to our fellow man.
Our second gift holds special importance for me, as my wife Lisa is an avid cyclist and we spend time together at cycling.
Together with the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board which I established in November 2014, I am honored to present this custom-made Breezer Downtown 8, a ‘commuter-style’ bike to Pope Francis. It is a “people’s bike” for the “people’s pope”.
Breezer is an American bicycle brand owned by Advanced Sports, Inc., which is located in Philadelphia. This idea was inspired by my wife Lisa and Karen Bliss, chair of the Bicycling Advocacy Board.
The bicycle was created to celebrate Pope Francis’ advocacy for environmentally responsible modes of transit. In conjunction with this gift, 100 bicycles have been donated to bicycle-based community programs in Philadelphia.
In his second encyclical, Laudato si’, the pope called for a shift in social consciousness about the way we live, with references to transportation and more livable cities.
The reasons he gave for this shift are not only environmental, but also social. Moving from an automobile-centered system to one in which walking and biking exist in harmony with public transportation enhances human relationships and fosters greater social equity within our communities.
The Breezer Downtown 8 is equipped with a Nexus 8-speed drivetrain, making shifting easy and smooth and giving the bike its clean aesthetic. Wide tires absorb road bumps, and a comfortable saddle makes the ride enjoyable.
A chain guard and fenders protect clothing from grease and the elements, and a rear rack can be used for carrying groceries, bags or briefcases.
Pope Francis’ bicycle also bears the creative graphics of Amanda Dirksen Catanzaro, head of Advanced Sports’ graphic design team. Catanzaro seamlessly combined her Fine Arts degree and faith-based education with her every-day job for this project.
The clean, papal white frame features elements created to honor the Pope, including his name in his native Spanish language, Papa Francisco, on the top tube and the Pope’s crest for the head badge, fabricated in brass by Toronto-based artists Carl & Rose.
Other symbols placed on the bike include a Cross, a Holy Candle, a Peace Dove and the colors of the Swiss Guard. As a tribute to Philadelphia, Catanzaro placed a Liberty Bell and a “PHL Made” logo on the seat tube.
One of the most stunning details is the chain guard. Custom designed and fabricated by Carl & Rose, the metal chain guard takes the shape of an angel’s wing.
Together, these gifts represent some of the best that Philadelphia has to offer – gifts of practicality and elegance for a humble and inspiring leader.
I’m looking forward to participating in many World Meeting of Families events this week, including the Film Festival this evening and the International Mayors Forum tomorrow, and welcoming Pope Francis on Saturday.
As a Jesuit-trained man, I’ve tried to be a man for others, but Pope Francis has set a new standard for all of us in service. As the Holy Father said, ‘Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people’. Let our re-energized service to others begin!”