CEBU City, Jan. 27, 2016 – Papal legate Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, SDB, DD asked the famous Cebu dancing inmates to remember him in prayer, saying the prayers of the prisoners are “powerful” since God is near to them and always wishes to see them soon at the table of fellowship, the Mass.
The pope’s personal representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress currently being held
in this city was entertained by the inmates their world famous dance routines.
“We pray for each and one another. We will be waiting for you for the table fellowship like the Eucharist,” he said.
‘I love you all’
Bo then said in Cebuano “I love you all. I’ll pray for you all”, which elicited smiles and applause from among the inmates.
The prelate said that he will also include those who are in the prison ministry, calling them “those who have brotherly or sisterly care over you.”
“Your prayers are very powerful because God is very near to you. So pray for all of us. Pray for a more peaceful Philippines,” he added.
That day, inmates presented a Michael Jackson dance routine, which had previously gone viral after it was uploaded to YouTube. After which, they danced the IEC official hymn “Christ in us, our hope of glory.”
The cardinal, visibly touched by the prisoners’ dance number, addressed them, saying, they are always in his thoughts and prayers.
Dancing in the rain
“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass but it is about learning to dance in the rain,” said Bo noting that the inmates danced heartily while a light drizzle fell.
“Yes, you have danced in the rain. Your dance is a beautiful love directed straight to the heart of all of us. Thank you for your love. Daghang salamat.”
The Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar told the inmates to “never, never, never, give up’”
Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. who was himself jailed many times, the papal legate said that only light can drive out darkness, hatred by love.
“Darkness can never drive darkness. Only light can drive out darkness. Hatred can never drive hatred. Only love can drive out hatred.”
After his address, the cardinal mingled with the inmates, smiling, and blessing them.
Closer to God
One of the inmates who danced, Lito Granada from Camotes island, said he was touched by the visit of the papal legate, impressed by how a busy VIP like him could consider visiting them.
“We thank him for visiting us. We hope he always prays for us,” he said.
Granada, who has been incarcerated for 14 years serving a life sentence, said prison life changed him by making him closer to the Lord, describing himself as “not believing in the Lord before [he] was jailed”.
He said life in prison changed him and made him realize that there is a Lord who loves everyone.
“I know that problems are big and heavy, but recognizing that the Lord is with us, the load becomes lighter,” he said.
The 44-year old family man said he first of all offered his dance to the Lord and secondly to “our visitors, especially the cardinal.”
“We are part of the Eucharistic Congress. And for that we are happy,” he said. (Rommel Lopez with reports from Roy Lagarde / CBCP News)