NEW YORK (AP) — The stars are coming out for the papal visit.
Celebrities including Jennifer Hudson, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli will be performing at papal events in New York City and Philadelphia. Pope Francis is visiting those cities, as well as Washington, during his first trip to the United States from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27.
Officials with the Archdiocese of New York announced performers for an afternoon concert at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25, before Pope Francis celebrates Mass there in the evening. Along with Hudson and Estefan, performers scheduled to appear include Harry Connick, Jr., Norm Lewis, and Martin Sheen. The program was being called “A Journey in Faith” and was also expected to include prayers.
Tickets for the Mass were distributed through the archdiocese’s parishes, and security was expected to be very tight, with attendees advised to arrive early.
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In Philadelphia, organizers announced Monday that singer Aretha Franklin would be among those performing for him during an outdoor festival on the next-to-last night of his U.S. tour.
The 72-year-old Franklin is part of the lineup for the Sept. 26 Festival of Families, the closing ceremony for the triennial World Meeting of Families conference.
They also announced that actor Mark Wahlberg will host and comedian Jim Gaffigan will perform. The 44-year-old Wahlberg has credited his Catholic faith and a parish priest for his success after a rough upbringing in Boston.
The Fray, Sister Sledge, Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra were also on the list. The next day Francis will celebrate Mass before an expected crowd of more than 1 million people.
No celebrity performances have been announced for Washington.