PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pope Francis says he plans to visit Philadelphia for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

In remarks offered Monday morning from the Vatican, the pope formally announced his intention to attend the event in September.

“I am overjoyed by Pope Francis’ announcement that he will join with us for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput, who was present for the announcement. “A hallmark of his papacy has been a keen focus on the many challenges that families face today globally. His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering.”

This visit will mark his first to the United States as pope. He will be only the fourth reigning Pontiff to visit our nation in its history. The last papal visit to Philadelphia was by Pope John Paul II in 1979.

“To have a second visit within our lifetime certainly is unique,” said Archdiocese of Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre, “so it’s a real blessing.”

His predecessor, Pope Benedict, had already expressed his plans to visit, but it was uncertain if Pope Francis would come. And while it was greatly anticipated that he would make the trip, the official word was still greeted with much elation.

“As I’ve said many times before, I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways,” Chaput said. “We look forward to Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts.”

Detailed plans for the pope’s visit have not yet been finalized and are expected to be released in spring or summer of next year. However, it is expected that the Holy Father will visit September 25-27, 2015 to participate in the closing events of the Eighth World Meeting of Families. The events include the Festival of Families, an intercultural celebration of family life around the world, which would be held on Saturday, September 26, and a Papal Mass to be held on Sunday, September 27. Both of the events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and will be open to the public.

“It’s a part of Philadelphia I’m very proud of,” said World Meeting of Families board of directors member Eustace Mita. “The pope in many instances has always been in a stadium, but this is a pope of the people, and he’ll be out there with two million people, right on the steps of the Art Museum.”

It’s unclear if Pope Francis will visit any other American cities during his trip.

For more information you can visit WorldMeeting2015.org.

You may also be interested in these news stories:

[display-posts category=”sports” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]