Cebu News

For first communicants and others: A day to remember

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The color white dominated the grounds of the Cebu City Sports Center yesterday afternoon as 5,000 first communicants, most of them children but some of them teenagers and adults, wore white as they received the Holy Eucharist for the first time.

Two of them were siblings Miko Duterte, 10, and Juvel, 9, who came all the way from Kalubihan, Barili, Cebu, together with their parents to receive their first Communion from bishops from different countries.

Juvel expressed his happiness to have received the Holy Eucharist for the first time.

“Nagpasalamat ko ni Lord nakakumpisal ko unya nakakalawat na ko. Nalipay pud ko kay nakaanhi pud ko diri unya daghan kaayo’g tawo,” he said.

Miko said as he received the first Communion yesterday, he promised to God he will stay a good boy and a good son to his parents.

Their mother, Alma, 43, also expressed her happiness saying her sons are now part of history for having received their communion during an International Eucharistic Congress.

“Giapil gyud namo kay sukad sa pagkatawo namo, karon pa gyud nahitabo diri sa Pilipinas ang IEC,” she said.

Alma said he hopes her children will grow with faith in God and can achieve their dreams in the future.

Taker of the host now the giver

Presiding over the “Children’s Mass” was no less than Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, who himself first accepted the Holy Eucharist in a similar ceremony held at Luneta, Manila, in 1937. It was the first IEC congress held in the Philippines and also in Asia.

Even though Vidal was wheeled to the altar due to his health condition, the 84-year-old prelate still stood up in front and celebrated the Homily with the first communicants which made him recall his experience when he was six years old.

“I know very well the feeling of these children here. I was one of those children who received First Communion during Children’s Day at Luneta. I was amazed at the beauty of the priest and the many people. I was even more amazed at the papal legate looking like a king with his long red robe. But above all, as a young boy, I felt very big,” said Vidal.

Vidal said God does not fail to amaze him even after so many years for giving him the chance to witness or to speak during the IEC.

He even jested that despite his old age he is happy for he believes in God and the goodness of his people.

“This is the joy of believing. If you believe in people, there is unending joy because in each and every person, there is inexhaustible goodness,” he said.

Vidal also said everyone must love each other for “this is the love that can save us”.

“My friends, as long as you continue to love and allow ourselves to be carried by the movement of the Holy Spirit, God himself will show us the way, will show us the true face of love which is revealed to us in the face of Jesus hanging on the cross,” said Vidal.


One of those who attended the Children’s Mass yesterday was a woman who also took first communion during the 1937 IEC.

Rosita Arcenas, 86, said she felt great happiness and joy to receive the communion again in the second IEC in the Philippines and that it was Vidal, himself, who gave her the Holy Eucharist.

“I hope they will receive Christ and they will remember this day always and forever,” said Arcenas pertaining to yesterday’s first time communicants.

Arcenas also thanked God for all the blessing she has received in her life.

“He has given me all the blessings and my children are all well, I feel great happiness,” she said.

As early as 1 p.m. delegates of the IEC braved the heat of the sun and started lining up along Osmeña Boulevard to enter the sports center.

Among those who heard the Mass were Senator Cynthia Villar, Cebu City north district Representative Raul del Mar and his daughter former north district representative Cutie del Mar.

Villar, who was personally invited by Cardinal Vidal and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to join the Mass, said she was impressed by the Sinulog presentation after the Mass.

 “Ang ganda ng Sinulog presentation. Akoy namamangha sa ganda,” said Villar.

Police said at least 50,000 to 70,000 devotees heard the Mass for the first communicants yesterday afternoon at the sports center.

Chief Inspector David Señor, Police Community Relations chief of the Cebu City Police Office, said that the crowd inside the sports center could easily reach up to 50,000 and people occupied more than just the grandstand.

Señor added there were no incidents recorded during the Mass except for the fainting of some mass goers who were immediately treated. The Fuente Police Station, which is in charge of the area around the venue, also said nobody reported any crime during the Mass. — /BRP (FREEMAN)


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