CEBU City, Jan. 31, 2016 – The Cebu City Sports Complex was filled to capacity Saturday as 5,000 Catholic boys and girls marked a milestone in their spiritual lives by receiving their First Communion.
“I’m happy and glad [to be in this event],” said eight-year old Maryst Norña Donque of Cebu South, one of thousands of little ladies dressed in white for the special occasion, when asked how she felt like as she was about to have what St. Thérèse of Lisieux called the first “kiss of love” with the Lord.
“I’m glad that the First Communion of my daughter is during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC),” commented Marsyt’s father, Marbien, an instructor at the Holy Trinity College.
“It took 79 years and it [IEC] went back to the Philippines. Before it was Manila. This time, it’s Cebu. We’re proud Cebuanos,” he added.
Meanwhile, Christopher Rago, the father of third-grader John Chrismar Rago, another communicant, of Brgy. Pamutan, was thankful Cebu is hosting IEC, and that his son was finally having his First Communion.
“We are so happy we are able to come here,” added the multi-cab driver.
Presiding over the “Children’s Mass” was no less than Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, who due to his frail health had to be wheeled into the venue.
In his opening remarks, the 84-year old prelate recalled having been a boy of six when he himself first accepted the Body and Blood of His Eucharistic Lord in a similar ceremony held at Luneta, Manila in 1937.
‘I felt very big’
“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,” he shared to the applause of the crowd.
The children went on to renew the promises their godparents had recited on their behalf on their baptismal day.
“Viva Jesus, Bread of Life … Viva Jesus, life-giving food … Viva Jesus, hope of our glory,” this new generation of Catholics said in chorus.
The well-attended religious event capped a series of activities lined up on Day 7 of the ongoing IEC.
Witnessing the First Communion were IEC Eucharistic pilgrims from all over the world as well as delegates from the episcopal sees of Pasig, Novaliches, Ilagan, Talibon, Dumaguete, Calbayog, Naval, Pagadian, Malaybalay, Palo, and the Military Ordinariate. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)