Cebu News

On 51st International Eucharistic congress: Church hopes lessons learned

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - After the week-long International Eucharistic Congress, church officials are hoping the delegates have found and fully understood the real essence of the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, which according to Papal Legate to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress His Eminence Charles Cardinal Bo is the source and goal of the “mission.”

He said the Church and its people are called on a mission to promote awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in life and mission; to help improve our understanding and celebration of Eucharist liturgy; and to draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist

Therefore, according to Bi-shop Mylo Hubert Claudio Vergara, the delegates and even church officials are called to reach out to the poor and to those who are suffering.

“That’s our call for all of us. We should go to the marginalized sectors and pray the Eucharist more sincerely and devoutly that will lead us to actions,” said Vergara, 51st IEC communications head and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Vergara said delegates are also called on to bring home HOPE. H stands for humble hearts, O for outreach to the poor and the suffering, P for pray the Eucharist more sincerely and devoutly and must lead us to action, while E stands for empowered by Jesus. 

“The delegates are humbled by the sharing of the speakers. They humbled us also because we realized our limitation, sinfulness, weakness,” he said.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the fruits of the congress depend on the delegates themselves and even on their needs and their nations. He also hopes the delegates will propagate the core message of the Eucharist as well as learn to discern the ecumenical importance of the Eucharist.

“I believe that many of the delegates sent here have been told that they will be expected to be missionaries. To echo talks, to share their significant experiences to others,” said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

“You are called to be with others in a meal that the Lord is hosting. When the Lord hosts a meal, be prepared to meet a fellow sinner, a brother or a sister, and in each one I see myself —sinful but loved, undeserving but invited,” Tagle said, citing from Scripture how people like Matthew, Zacchaeus and other sinners gathered around the Lord. In contrast, he cites the total isolation of the rich man who ignored the poor man Lazarus.

More than 15,000 delegates joined the 51st IEC in Cebu City from January 24 to 31.

IEC Lay witness Marianne Servaas, from Beligum, called on IEC delegates not to underestimate what happened in the congress. She also said she will bring home the “overwhelming love and joy” of the Filipinos.

“We lost our joy, our trust and even our ability to relate to others. But, you, Filipinos have these and you bring change,” she said.

She commended the Filipinos’ incredible sense of joy borne of gratitude. In the West, she said they turned things upside down.

 “We have turned cynical, critical. We begin with ideas and fail to look at life,” she said.

“You know that suffering is temporary, joy is not. We have also lost trust. We have become distrustful. The West is going through a very profound and quiet suffering,” Servaas said. 

CBCP congress statement

In their congress statement, the CBCP stressed the importance of Eucharist, which it called the bread of hope; bread of the poor; bread of dialogue; and bread for mission.

It said that the congress was a gathering of early disciples when they encountered God, in the Sacred Scripture and in the breaking of the bread.

Thousands of delegates and members of clergy, who are a “people on mission,” gathered to proclaim the story of Jesus.

“Truly, IEC 2016 is a clarion call to mission for all of us. Our Eucharist is the source and goal of the Church’s mission,” the one page statement read.

Group effort

In a press conference yesterday, acting Mayor Edgardo Labella said the success of the event was because of the united efforts of all stakeholders.

“That was a display of how unity, how cooperation among all of us can make a difference. Aside from the actual Statio Orbis, there was a moving part in the preparation when you see all those who tried to dry up the site. All were really helping, private, government and even the police,” Labella said.

“It showed that we are capable of holding important international conferences nga di ta mauwaw sa outside world. Not just Cebu City but the entire Cebuano community,” he added.

Both Labella and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management chairman and City Councilor David Tumulak agree Cebu is capable of hosting international events.

Aside from the IEC, the city recently celebrated the Mega Sinulog 2016 and also hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings last year.

During the regular session yesterday, Tumulak passed a resolution commending the people behind the success of the IEC.

In an approved resolution, the City Council commended the Cebu Provincial Police Office, Cebu City Police Office, City Health Department, Armed Forces of the Philippines, CCDRRMC, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Association of Barangay Councils, Cebu City Transportation Office, Philippine Red Cross, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation and All-Terrain Medical Relief Organization for providing service to the public.

Tumulak said the personnel of these private and public agencies contributed a lot in securing the international and local delegates especially the closing Mass which drew an estimated crowd of 1 million.

Room for improvement

While claiming a successful event, Tumulak also said there is room for improvement on the part of the city.

“(We need) widening of roads, inform the public nga likayan gyud dala og cars, naka daghan didto private cars. Wa kaayo jeep nanagan. Also, we need to improve medical response, labi na ing ato kadaghan nga crowd,” he said.

He said the 56 ambulances last Sunday was not the ideal number of medical response considering the crowd of over 1 million, adding that ideal ration is 1 ambulance is to 1,000 people.

The resolution of Tumulak was approved yesterday in mass motion.

The City Council conducted their session yesterday instead of tomorrow since there are City Councilors who will attend on the Philippine Councilor’s League seminar. — /BRP (FREEMAN)



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