MANILA, June 13, 2014 – The year was 1937. Two of the country’s cardinals were literally young boys at the time, but both have vivid memories of the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress, the first one held in the Philippines.
Remarkably, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was a first communicant during the said event.
“In all our preparation for the Eucharistic Congress, we were always focusing on Christ. We have to memorize the theme which was in Spanish,” he said, noting that the young communicants could not even understand Spanish but sang the theme song all the same.
Cardinal Vidal also shared it was his first time in Manila, the sight of which amazed him.
“All the roads were concrete…[I thought] napakayaman pala nito! (Manila is so rich!),” Vidal added.
At a press conference on June 10 for the upcoming 51st Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu City, he also recounted that it was his first time to see a cardinal
“[I thought] what kind of a priest is he? All in red. He looked like a queen because of the 24 yards of train,” Vidal said, remembering his young self’s thoughts.
Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, though a bit younger, said he was old enough to remember parts of the historic event in 1937.
“When the 33rd International Eucharistic Congress was held in Manila, my mother took me to Luneta. At the time, I wasn’t a Christian yet, I was still pagan,” he said, noting that at 4 years old, he was still too young to receive holy communion.
Rosales, who turns 82 in a few weeks, said he could remember the “big columns” put up in Luneta for the occasion but could not “understand what was going on.”
What would remain longer in his and his family’s memories were the Eucharistic candles given away during the event.
“We came home with candles, Eucharistic candles with pictures inside the candle, which my mother only lit only during baptisms, confirmation, birthdays and events. That’s what I could remember of the International Eucharistic Congress,” Rosales said.
The Philippines receives the honor to host the IEC for the second time this January 24 – 31, 2016 when Cebu City plays host to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.
The event is expected to draw 15,000 delegates from all over the world.
The Congress will also feature open air masses open to the public that could easily gather 1 million people. (CBCP News)