CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES – The 51st International Eucharistic Congress here in Cebu City is now on its eighth and final day.

Delegates from all over the world gathered at the South Road Properties for the Closing Mass and the Statio Orbis. His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo presided the ceremonies. The Archdiocese of Cebu gave the delegates a warm welcome. Now the same archdiocese sends them as missionaries to the world, bearing with them the ideals that the successful congress taught them.

On January 24, Cardinal Bo presided the Sunday Mass at the Plaza Independencia to open the 51st International Eucharistic Congress formally.

Five days of Catecheses and testimonies strengthened the fervor of the participants, and very central to the activities of each day was the celebration of the Holy Mass. 

On Monday, January 25, the Most Rev. Piero Marini presided the Mass at the IEC Pavilion in Mabolo, Cebu.

His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales presided the Mass on Tuesday, January 26, still at the IEC Pavilion.

On January 27, Wednesday, the fourth day of the Eucharistic Congress, the unique activity was the Parish Encounter, giving the local and foreign participants an opportunity to celebrate Mass in different churches here in Cebu City so that the participants would get a taste of the Cebuano faith and religiosity.

 The organizers of the 51st Eucharistic Congress planned the daily activities in such a way that every day would have its own culminating activity.  After the Morning Mass, on Thursday, January 28, officiated by His Eminence Peter Cardinal Erdo, of Budapest, Hungary at the IEC Pavilion, the participants visited selected churches, giving them a glimpse of Philippine history, architecture and cultural heritage.

The Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin celebrated the Holy Mass at the Cebu Provincial Capitol on Friday, January 29.  This was followed by a 3.4–kilometer procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the Capitol grounds to Plaza Independencia.  According to police estimates, around 1.5 million Catholic faithful joined the procession, which brought the otherwise bustling City of Cebu to a halt.

On Saturday, January 30, His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal presided the Children’s Mass at the Cebu City Sports Complex during which 5,000 children from various dioceses in the Philippines received their first holy communion.

His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo celebrated the closing Mass at the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine in the open field of the South Road Properties here in Cebu.  It was attended by more than a million Catholic faithful, another historic moment for the Province of Cebu and for the entire country.

It has been a meaningful week of Eucharistic renewal. It has been a successful week of international religious activities here in Cebu City. For CBCP Media and Recoletos Communications, and in behalf of Fray Kenneth Caligdong and Fray Robin Ross Plata, this is Fray Jessriel Marcha, OAR reporting.

The 51st International Eucharistic Congress here in Cebu City is now on its second to the last day.

Pilgrims from all-over the world are still filled with fervor and energy to hear the catechism on the Holy Eucharist.

Archbishop  Angel Lagdameo, DD, of the Archdiocese of Jaro, opened the day presiding the Morning Praise. Pilgrims in the pavilion sang with the members of the Congregation of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. In his brief homily, Arch. Lagdameo exhorted the pilgrims to become a Eucharistic community, weaving the tapestry of love.

The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, His Excellency Timothy Cardinal Dolan, DD, energetically shared his reflection on the topic “The Eucharist and Mary.” Card. Dolan presented the Eucharist as a sacrifice, meal, and presence from another perspective, this time in the light of Mary’s life. “If you want to be closer to Jesus at the cross, be close to Mary for she was there at the foot of the cross” Card. Timothy said. As a meal, the Eucharist is a family meal where Mary, our mother, is present. Mary also plays a role on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. The incarnation happens every time the Mass is celebrated.

After a well applauded catechesis by Card. Timothy Dolan, Mr. Jay-arr Felisilda Librando, composer of the official theme song of the 51st IEC, sang his own composition.

Sharing her voice of hope from Thailand, Ms. Sarindhorn Mativachranon testified on her life-experience. For decades, she was hiding as a fugitive as she was falsely accused of a crime that she did not commit. After some time, she realized that if she wanted to continue living, she would have to learn how to forgive. At present, she is now an evangelizer to the business circle, the judiciary, and even to politicians and the military.  The whole pavilion gave Ms. Sarindhorn a standing ovation after her faith-testimony.

 

A series of Deaf Tracks were also presented. Fr. Cyril Axelrod and Fr. Ralph Schimitz shared with our deaf brothers and sisters a conference on the “Eye People: Including Deaf Persons with Disabilities.” Stephanie Authier and Fr. Matthew Hysell delivered their topic on “Deaf Catholics; Leaders and Teachers.”  Frs. Charlie Dittmeier and Min Seo Park discussed the topic on “Deaf Ministry—South East Asia.”

 

In the afternoon, thousands of children received the Body of Christ for the first time. His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, DD, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cebu, who was also a first communicant during the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila in 1937, presided the Children’s Mass at Cebu City Sports Center.

 

To wrap up the day’s events, organizers treated both local and foreign delegates to a Sinulog Festival. Winners from this year’s Sinulog sa Kabataan staged their ritual dance in honor of Señor Sto. Niño.

 

It has been a grace-filled day for all the participants of this Eucharistic congress. For CBCP Media and Recoletos Communications, this is Fray Robin Ross Plata, OAR, reporting.

Cebu City, the Queen City of the South, has shown her vibrant faith again on the fourth day of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.

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