CEBU, Philippines - Around 4,304 pilgrims yesterday congregated in Lapu-Lapu City for the Youth Day encounter, one of the events in the weeklong 51st International Eucharistic Congress. The event was held at the Hoops Dome in Barangay Gun-ob.
Rev. Father Conegundo Garganta, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth under Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said he saw the enthusiasm of the young people during the activity.
“The vibrant expression of young people once gathered together, the joy, the dances, the singing and the energy translated will bring change not (only) for the church but for the whole country,” Garganta said.
At least 700 international and 3,604 local and national delegates joined in the Youth Day encounter.
Garganta said the youth have so much to offer and contribute to the world as the “sharers of the word and the Eucharist,” especially that most of them grew up in the modern age of technology.
“In the age of internet, mas malaki ang chance, kasi ang mga kabataan ay madaling ma-attach sa technology. If they are properly guided, they will make use of these resources,” Garganta said.
Manuel Cervantes, Legionaries of Christ, who serves as translator for IEC, said the Eucharist makes the delegates “stronger and wiser.”
“The experiences of sharing the faith with Filipino community- I want to share this (experience) back in Rome, to my fellow seminarians and hopefully to Mexico. Thank you for the faith you permit us... especially for the faith you share with us. We’re all united in Christ, thank you very much,” Cervantes said.
Jhonro Guaren, program committee head of IEC-Youth Day, said the sudden change of venue and unpredictable weather were all part of their journey.
“Mao gyud ni sa amoa youth ministry. Whatever problems, it’s part of the faith experience nga you need to catch up, we need to do something about it. It is natural for complaints to happen. And we do inform them (delegates or coordinators) politely,” Guaren said.
The event was supposed to be held at the Mandani Bay in the north reclamation area but the organizers had to change the venue because of the weather condition.
The police also have to make the necessary security adjustments.
Senior Superintendent Rey Lyndon Lawas, deputy regional director for operations of Police Regional Office 7, said that they have to adjust with the preparation since Hoops Dome became the main venue for the overnight event.
Lawas said that on top of the deployment of at least 100 police officers they have augmented more than 200 officers to secure the delegates.
Superintendent Henry Biñas said they have installed walk-through scanners at the venue for security of the delegates.
Polio victim Rogelio Galanta, 33, from the diocese of Ilagan, Isabela, was one of the delegates attended the event.
He said his physical condition did not stop him from attending the IEC Youth Day even if moving around from one place to another is very difficult for him.
“Isa sa malaking considerations before I decided to go with the group, medyo nahihirapan ako sa mobilization. But He would send people to help me in moving around,” Galanta said.
Sitting on the wheelchair, Galanta said his disability will not stop him from serving God.
From being a youth volunteer, Galanta is now the youth coordinator of their vicariate, giving him the chance to be chosen as one of the representatives of the diocese to come to Cebu. (FREEMAN)