Download and print your own Flat Francis here!

The 2015 World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22 to 25 in Philadelphia, Pa., followed by Pope Francis’ first U.S. papal visit Sept. 26 and 27, and the Diocese of Syracuse is offering the faithful several ways to participate.

Win a trip to the WMF

   The World Meeting of Families (WMF) is touted as the world’s largest gathering of Catholic families. Conceived by St. John Paul II as a way to strengthen families around the world, the first meeting was held in Rome, Italy, in 1994. The meetings take place every three years, and have been hosted in Brazil, the Philippines, Spain, Mexico and Italy.
       The theme for this year’s meeting is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” The theme focuses on the role of the family in teaching people how to give and receive love. Extensive information about the event is available on the WMF website at

   The Diocese of Syracuse and The Good News Center of Utica are partnering to offer a scholarship to the WMF for four faithful family members from the diocese.

   To enter, visit and complete the application. Answer three questions: How is your family fully alive in our Catholic Faith? What do you hope to learn from this experience? How do you plan on bringing back what you learn to help build up the Catholic Christian family?

   Families are encouraged to include responses from each member of the family that would be attending. In addition, a letter of recommendation from the pastor should be included with the essay. All submissions must be received by May 31. A representative panel will read the essays and discern the recipient family by mid-June.

   Registration will cover four people from one family. (Families are diverse and may include nuclear, single-parent, blended, foster or grandparents as parents.) Registration includes admission to all of the events from Tuesday through Friday. Events include engaging speakers for adults, lively activities for youth, and daycare for children ages 6 months to 6 years. In addition, a $500 grant will be donated by The Good News Center to help defray other expenses. Parishes are encouraged to financially assist the winning family as well. All other expenses are the responsibility of the family.

   The Syracuse Diocese Communications Team, including the Catholic Sun, Catholic TV and Social Media personnel will also be attending and look forward to interacting with the family, sharing their experiences with all throughout the diocese.

Join a bus trip to the papal Mass

   The diocese is offering two bus trips to the papal Mass in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, one for youths and one for adults.
   Both trips are one-day events, leaving at 7 a.m. and returning at 11:30 p.m. The cost for either trip is $75 per person ($300 max per family) and includes transportation and a diocesan marker (hat or scarf).

   Visit and click on “bus trip to papal Mass” for links to register for either trip.

   Please note that bus transportation is for the papal Mass only, not for the WMF itself. Also be advised that the one-day pilgrimage will be physically demanding and may require pilgrims to stand for long periods of time in very crowded areas.

Show us your Flat Francis!

   In advance of Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S., Catholic Extension has launched a campaign to show him the Catholic Church in America.

   The organization has created Flat Francis — a riff on the children’s book character Flat Stanley and his global adventures — and is encouraging U.S. Catholics to share on social media photos of themselves and their faith communities with the flat pontiff. Catholic Extension will post the photos on its website and social media channels and also send a collage of all the photos to Pope Francis.

   To participate, cut out the Flat Francis here and share your photos with him on your Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #FlatFrancis. Don’t forget to tag @SyrCatholicSun and @SyrDiocese, as we’ll be sharing, too!

Thanks to Catholic Extension for sharing Flat Francis with the Diocese of Syracuse!

Download and print your own Flat Francis here!

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