5 Boholanos among ‘Pope’s lunch mates’

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TAGBILARAN City, Bohol, Dec. 3, 2014—The Diocese of Tagbilaran announced it has already chosen five persons who will be given a rare chance to share lunch with Pope Francis during his visit to the country next year, representing Bohol.

These as yet unnamed individuals are expected to join over 20 others, all of whom survivors of recent calamities like “Yolanda” (Haiyan), at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo, Leyte on Jan. 17, 2015.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake in 2013 destroyed many heritage churches in Bohol. (Photo: CBCP News)

According to Fr. Felix Warli R. Salise, Tagbilaran diocese’s Social Action Center (SAC) director, he, along with other priests whose parishes suffered devastating blows from the 7.2-magnitude tremor that rocked the province in 2013, chose the “papal lunch mates” after a thorough selection process.

Fair, realistic choice

In a recent interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Salise expressed assurance the choice was fair and realistic, stressing the committee considered the survivors’ firsthand experiences of the tragedy and how it impacted their lives.

“Among those we have chosen, there’s one who had almost died, while another who lost [a] limb, because of the earthquake. There’s also one who lost all his loved ones,” the priest shared.

Salise said they are from different parishes most severely hit by the quake, but refused naming them, citing security concerns.

These Bohol parishes are: Our Lady of Light Parish in Loon, San Agustín Parish in Sagbayan, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Antiquera, Holy Cross Parish in Maribojoc, and San Vicente Ferrer Parish in Tubigon.

The scheduled lunch is in keeping with Pope Francis’ desire for an “encounter”, especially with people “on the margins”.

Papal itinerary

The pope’s complete Palo archdiocese itinerary is as follows:
Jan. 17, 2015
• Departure for the Archdiocese of Palo – Villamor Air Base
• Arrival at Tacloban Airport
• Holy Mass near Tacloban Airport
• Lunch with the Poor and Survivors of Calamities at Gonzagahaus (Residence of the Archbishop of Palo) – Palo, Leyte
• Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor – Palo, Leyte
• Meeting with the Priests and Women and Men Religious at Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration (Palo Cathedral) – Palo, Leyte
• Departure for Manila
• Arrival at Manila – Villamor Air Base

Themed “Mercy and Compassion”, Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015 is a rare event which Church officials predict will give Filipino Catholics a much-needed spiritual transformation. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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