Those hoping to take part in next year's worldwide Catholic conference on families being held in Philadelphia can now register for the event, but attendance is not going to be cheap.
Registration for the 2015 World Meeting of Families (WMOF), taking place Sept. 22 - 27, opened on Monday. Organizers of the triennial conference expect some 20,000 people to attend its Adult and Child Congresses at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Another million plus people could come to the city to see Pope Francis deliver Mass at the end of the event. It will be the pope's first U.S. visit since being elected.
Attendees will hear from world-renowned theologians, educators and religious leaders and discuss faith's role in the lives of families, according to organizers. They will also be offered solutions to everyday issues families face — including practical problems like protecting children on the internet, fixing damaged relationships and budgeting.
A sound budget will be important for those from other parts of the globe attending the conference because it could cost families thousands of dollars to take part.
Conference fees run between $125 and $325 per adult and $95 and $200 for each child. That does not include travel, lodging and, in most cases, food.
For a family of four, WMOF registration costs would run $750 for their mid-grade package. It includes admittance, two $100 debit cards and SEPTA transpasses.
Lodging at a three-star hotel near the airport, using the conference rate, would run about $720 for four nights.
That brings the total to $1,470.
To stay at a hotel in Center City, rates jump up — ranging to anywhere between $189 and $299 depending on the star level.
Attendees could save money by renting a room, apartment or home through Airbnb where rates are running $100 a night or higher depending on the location and size. Going this route could also save some money on food by giving people the chance to cook instead of eating out.
There are a few caveats though.
The discounted hotel rates only run during the actual conference. Anyone hoping to take part in the pope's Sunday mass, presumably being held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, would have to pay for the extra nights at full weekend rates.
Then you'd have to add in food, which could be offset by the debit cards, tourist attractions, taxes, incidentals and travel to and from Philadelphia — which would ultimately add hundreds if not thousands of dollars to the cost.
Organizers are encouraging people to save money by staying with a host family through its Homestay program. Visitors would pay the family a "nominal" fee for the lodging. Actual costs have yet to be outlined.
Host families are still being recruited and people will not be able to sign up for this option until January.
You can register for WMOF through the conference's website by clicking here.