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Artists announced for program before papal Mass in New York

Singer Jennifer Hudson, pictured in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Singer Jennifer Hudson, pictured in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Oct. 14, 2014, is among artists scheduled to perform before a papal Mass at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25, 2015 during a program of "prayer, reflections and devotional music." Credit: AP

Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Hudson and James "D Train" Williams are among the artists scheduled to perform during a three-hour program of "prayer, reflections and devotional music" on Sept. 25 at Madison Square Garden before Pope Francis celebrates Mass there that evening, the Archdiocese of New York said Monday.

The program -- called "A Journey in Faith" -- is a collaboration of the archdiocese, the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center and Diversified Production Services. It is to begin at 3 p.m., before the pope's arrival for the 6:30 p.m. Mass. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the program before the papal Mass would offer people a chance to give their confession, engage in religious discussion and watch acclaimed musicians perform.

Others scheduled to appear are Harry Connick Jr., Kelli O'Hara, Norm Lewis, Joseph Joubert, the Broadway Inspirational Voices and the Saint Charles Borromeo Choir, with Rob Mathes as musical director.

The archdiocese said actor Martin Sheen, television personality Rosanna Scotto and other "special guests," who were not named, would participate.

The archdiocese is distributing tickets for the Madison Square Garden event to parishes and Catholic institutions and organizations. They are not supposed to be for sale, and officials have warned the public about ticket scams.

The pontiff, who is to embark next week on his first trip to the United States, is to visit Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia, where the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families is taking place Sept. 22-25.

Francis is scheduled to arrive in New York from Washington the evening of Sept. 24 and go to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he will meet Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other dignitaries for an evening prayer service.

The following morning, he is to address the United Nations and participate in a multireligious service at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. That afternoon, he is slated to visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem and process in a motorcade through a portion of Central Park. The final event that day is the Mass at Madison Square Garden.

On the morning of Sept. 26, Francis is scheduled to depart for Philadelphia and a busy calendar of events there.

He is to celebrate a huge outdoor Mass on Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sept. 27, and depart for Rome that evening.

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