Eucharistic Congress calls for family unity
(The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU CITY, Philippines – With the conclusion of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, the Roman Catholic Church hopes to spread the message of preserving the value of family and inviting more youths to be active in church duties.

Charles Cardinal Bo, who represented Pope Francis at the weeklong event in Cebu, urged the faithful to keep unity within families.

“Families, Christ in you is the hope of glory. The family is the first communion. The family is the nucleus of the Church. Family breaks bread every day. The family needs to be protected, promoted and nurtured,” Bo said at the concluding mass on Sunday. 

He said the International Eucharistic Congress this year hopes to end with a stronger resolve to preserve the family as an indispensable treasure to the Church and as the future of humanity.

“Death of family is death of humanity,” he said, even urging Filipino families “to increase their children.”

Quoting Pope Francis, Bo said the greatest danger is destruction of families, not environmental or economic injustices. But the Church, he said, also stands before the challenge of drawing more youths closer to it.

“The future does not belong to countries that have oil or weapons. The future belongs to the nation with young people,” the archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar said.

In the Philippines, Bo said, those 25 years old and below now account for about 52 percent of the population. The challenge is to convince them to return to the Church.

“Instead of expecting the youth to return to the church, the church must return to the youth. A church that neglects the youth writes its own death sentence,” he added.

Bo’s 40-minute homily touched on various subjects, including moral power as the greatest power, the need for hope and the Church not being an “income-generating agency” but a “hope-generating fellowship.”

Bo also called the Philippines blessed for being the Catholic Church’s favorite daughter in Asia. He said the nation is poised to become its “eldest daughter” in the whole world in this millennium.

“I love Cebu. Seven days we were on the same table. We have explored the Eucharist in all dimensions with the theme ‘Christ in us, our hope of glory.’ Eucharist is source and goal and vision. Seventy-one countries received the spiritual food that nourish us through our faith, adoration, beautiful liturgy and our enriching fellowship, beautiful lectures, grand Eucharistic procession.

“How can we forget the warmth, the smile, the dance, the piety, and the fellowship of all of you. What a deep experience of table fellowship!” Bo told the crowd, earning their applause. 

In the end, the prelate asked the crowd to pray for him as he would for them.

Among the crowd yesterday was the 600-strong Taiwanese delegation accompanied by their state vice president Chen Chien-Jen.

Clear skies at SRP

Contrary to predictions, it did not rain but the sun also made it difficult for some mass goers, especially those who opted to walk to the venue rather than wait in long lines for the bus service to take them there. 

The sudden change of weather did not stop many Catholic faithful coming from different parts of Cebu to go to the South Road Properties to hear the Statio Orbis or final mass for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. 

Some of them were 15 parishioners from Basak, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu who stayed outside the venue several hours before the mass and started squatting using a tarpaulin as shield from the sun.

One of them, Cristina Dumo, 50, said they didn’t mind spending from their own pocket just to make sure they could attend the Statio Orbis because it was a rare opportunity.

She said they arrived at the venue around 9 a.m. even though the mass was scheduled at 4 p.m. so they could get a good spot.

Meanwhile, Alpiniana Haramil, 69, from Lipata, Minglanilla, Cebu, did not mind going to the venue alone despite having no vehicle.

Haramil, a retired teacher, said she was very thankful to God for giving an instrument for her to arrive at the venue safe and sound.

Many attendees also brought their own chairs, while others ignored the order not to bring umbrellas.

There was a lot of dancing from the enthusiastic crowd right after the mass as they danced to the upbeat song “I love Cebu.” Some bishops and foreign delegates even joined the dancing.         

Some of the foreign media covering the event could not help but be amazed at the 3,000-member choir, who sang all throughout the mass from the bleachers.

Incentives  

Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said with the successful hosting of two international events, the Mega Sinulog and International Eucharistic Congress, he is eyeing giving incentives to all who worked behind the scenes. 

Labella said hosting the International Eucharistic Congress would be inculcated in the hearts and minds of Cebuanos.

“After Cebu City’s hosting of International Eucharistic Congress, I hope the residents of the city will improve their relationship with the Eucharist,” he said.

1M in attendance 

Sr. Supt. Benjamin Santos, director of Cebu City Police Office, said those who attended the mass reached up to one million.

Sr. Supt. Renato Dugan told reporters that the total deployed police forces numbered 6,000 on top of other law enforcement units that were also deployed. To secure the crowd, the police installed walk through scanner machines where mass goers would pass through for inspection. 

K-9 units were also deployed as an additional security measure. The dogs and their handlers were roving the perimeters to secure the area. –Kristine Quintas, John Destacamento, Ma. Fatima Secuya, Mitchelle Palaubsanon, Bryner Diaz, Jean Marvette Demecillo, Freeman

ACIRC ACTING CEBU CITY MAYOR EDGARDO LABELLA AFTER CEBU CITY CEBU CHURCH INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS MASS NBSP SR. SUPT STATIO ORBIS STRONG
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