By Alexandria Hoff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From the 2nd floor of the Pennsylvania Convention Center came the sound of pure joy.

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The laughter was coming from two devout Catholic women who couldn’t have appeared more different. One in a colorful dress from the African country of Malawi, the other a young nun from Houston wearing an all white habit.

Five minutes prior, they were strangers.

“I just made a new friend from Africa. Every step I take I am meeting my brothers and sisters from around the world,” the latter said.

A minute later the room was suddenly enveloped by song, as a happy crowd from Mexico ushered in Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

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This is day three of the World Meeting of Families.

As jovial as this gathering is, it’s also a learning experience with lectures covering big family issues like raising children, caring for aging parents, finances, even divorce. Thursday’s Keynote Speech tackled intimacy.

Earlier in the day the role of family was emphasized in Pope Francis’ address to Congress.

“I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme,” he said.

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The Holy Father also asked to be kept in the thoughts of his followers in the coming days, though those who have traveled long distances to be in his presence in Philadelphia, have much of their thoughts already dedicated to him.

Alexandria Hoff