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November 21, 2013


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia Board announced today the appointment of Mrs. Donna Farrell as Executive Director and Mr. Jack O'Brien as Director of Event Services for the Eighth World Meeting of Families (WMOF). Both will be employed by the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia, an independent entity governed by a board of directors comprised of lay people. It was formed to plan and undertake the activities relating to this global event.

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families are extremely fortunate to have the expertise of both Donna and Jack in spearheading this historic event," said Robert Ciaruffoli, President of the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia Board. "Their work is integral to our efforts to ensure that the 2015 World Meeting of Families is a moment of grace and solidarity for our Church that enriches the lives of all those who will visit the Philadelphia region from around the world.

It's an opportunity like no other to showcase the uniqueness of this city and all that it has to offer on both a national and international basis. It's also a tremendous opportunity for evangelization and a blessing for the local economy, which will certainly benefit from this event on many levels. We are very excited that Donna and Jack have joined us to help make the World Meeting of Families a global success."

Mrs. Donna Farrell, Executive Director, World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia
Mrs. Donna Farrell returns to a role involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from Independence Blue Cross where she has served as Manager of External Affairs since 2012. There, she was responsible for overseeing public relations as well as coordination of national and regional media coverage of the largest health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Prior to that time, she served the Archdiocesan Office for Communications beginning in 1999. From 2005-2012, she was Director of Communications. This past May, Farrell received the papal honor, Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, (Cross for the Church and Pontiff) for her unwavering service to the Church. Her dedication to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Catholic faith was consistently evident through her efforts to highlight the good works of the local Church and promote Catholic values and teachings. Over the course of nearly 14 years, she devoted countless hours to managing internal communications and media relations surrounding many of the largest challenges the Archdiocese has faced in its history. Her appointment is effective January 2, 2014.

"I am deeply honored by this appointment and grateful for the opportunity to be part of such an historic event for the Archdiocese and for Philadelphia," said Farrell. "As Archbishop Chaput has noted, the World Meeting of Families will require a great deal of planning, organization, and hard work so I am eager to get started and hit the ground running. For everyone in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and all of those who will visit from around the world, our goal will be an experience that is powerful, grace-filled, and transformational."

Mr. Jack O'Brien, Director of Event Services, World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia
Mr. Jack O'Brien brings more than 20 years of experience in hospitality, event planning, and project management to this event. He most recently served as Principal at Manask & Associates and MANASK Hospitality Group, where he provided expert guidance and support to improve financial and operational performance in the hospitality industry. Prior to that, O'Brien worked for ARAMARK beginning in 1995, and most recently as President of Convention Centers, Retail, Facilities & Culinary Operations of the Sports and Entertainment Group. His responsibilities included managing their North American Conference Center, Retail Merchandise and Facility Services operations. He also provided leadership, motivation, mentoring and corporate guidance to senior managers in each discipline. O'Brien managed all aspects of the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia for ARAMARK Corporation, coordinating all activities held at the First Union (now Wells Fargo) Center and at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. His appointment is effective December 2, 2013.

"I was thrilled when it was announced that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had been selected to host the Eighth World Meeting of Families," said O'Brien. "And what better City than Philadelphia, known as much for the rich diversity of its neighborhoods and people as it is for its religious, historic and cultural destinations, as the first ever-American site for this world family gathering."

He continued, "We all look forward to welcoming families from around the world to this historic gathering in 2015. We also recognize that an event of this size, scope and importance requires significant work and planning and I am very excited to have been asked to assist in that process."

Since its inception by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe. Each World Meeting of Families aims to emphasize the Good News of the family and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society.

The World Meeting of Families draws a global audience. In Milan for the Seventh World Meeting, 153 nations were represented, 350,000 attended the Feast of Testimonies and more than one million participated in the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father. Beginning in 1994, during The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015).

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Editor's Note: For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015, please visit or

Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications

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