Prayers uttered in different languages at Eucharistic Congress
(The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – They walked as one, although they prayed in different languages.

Thursday night’s Visita Iglesia, the procession through seven parishes in Cebu City, was one of the offsite activities of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City participated in by thousands of religious and laity from different countries.

Most Reverend Giuseppe Sandri, bishop of Witbank in South Africa, walked along with the thick crowd. It was his first time to experience the religious custom observed by Filipino Catholics and Catholics from other countries during the Lenten Season.

Though out of breath after the almost three-hour walk from one parish to the other, Sandri regarded it as a “very beautiful experience.”

“The experience was very moving, I must say…Deeply spiritual experience for me,” added Sandri, a delegate of the international church gathering.

Sandri also noted that the International Eucharistic Congress was not an ordinary religious journey as it brought together Catholics from different countries.

“We are in pilgrimage and we are walking towards God. We come from God and we are walking towards God together as a community. This walk gives you the idea that we are all walking together; hopefully, we all go to heaven,” he said.

The bishop was among the group from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, walking through the other three parishes in the city – the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, Santo Rosario Parish and Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist).

Also his first time to participate in the walk, Reverend Annacletus Nzewuihe from Nigeria in West Africa would have wished for everybody to experience Visita Iglesia because he was amazed by how the religious and the faithful endured the long walk.

“It’s a great experience seeing so many people, despite many of them being tired but they still continue visiting the churches, they are still moving. That shows how our faith is… This Visita Iglesia is a way to show how we appreciate the Holy Eucharist and Christ in us,” the young deacon said.

“Despite the (differences in) language, race, culture and place you come from, what unites us is Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist as Catholics,” he added.

For Rev. Fr. Meshack Maine Phenethi from Lesotho, South Africa, the activity moved him and whenever he entered the parishes, he could feel “the atmosphere of prayer.”

“It means a lot to me because even with different race, what is more uniting us is the fact that when we arrived in the Church, we adore the same Christ, who is being experienced by everybody. Despite our differences, we go on in different directions but at the end of the day, we are one in our faith,” he said.

One of the delegates joined the walk not for personal prayers of good health or financial stability, but for the sanctification of the priest and religious.

Concepcion Carolina Maningas from Quezon City is a member of the prayer group Theotokos Prayer Mission.

She said she purposely canceled her trip home to continue her “journey with the Lord.”

“We are very excited to finish it. We are in one way towards Christ being the center of our journey. We experience that with whatever obstacle, we are still with the Lord, with no worry and no fear being with the Him,” she said.

“Even if we pray in different dialects, we feel that we are in one body, one mission for the Lord. We have to spread whatever we have learned from this convention,” she added.

Meanwhile, a delegate from the religious congregation of the Knights of Saint John offered the long walk as an act of sacrifice and penitence to follow Jesus Christ in His suffering for the people.

Ayi Gabriel Lionel Israel Thomas Kouevi from Togo in West Africa said that compared to what Jesus did being crucified on the cross, the procession was the smallest act that he can do.

“I discovered it as this is my first time and I find it very wonderful and very devotional to our Lord… Different people joined together and this is what we can see about the universality of the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.

There were also delegates from Basilan, a conflict-stricken area in Mindanao. One of them is Winn-love Jayson, a youth coordinator of the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan in Tumahubong, Sumisip. – May Miasco, Mitchelle Palaubsanon, Reinhard Julius Buhia, Jan Micheal Lumayag/Freeman

 

ACIRC AYI GABRIEL LIONEL ISRAEL THOMAS KOUEVI BASILAN CEBU CITY INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS JESUS CHRIST ONE SANDRI SOUTH AFRICA VISITA IGLESIA WEST AFRICA
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