CEBU City, Jan. 20, 2016— Over three thousand people beat the registration deadline for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) as preparation for the gathering heads into final stretch.
The estimate as of today was around 12,000 registrants but organizers said the exact figures may be known sometime this week yet.
The figures apparently rose quickly from about 8,500 last month. Organizers also said that at least 13 percent of the registrants are foreigners from 71 countries.
Serving as an underpinning for the IEC that will begin on, a theological symposium started today at the Cebu Doctors’ University with speakers chosen from a pool of renowned theologians and educators.
The topics have been chosen for their relevance to the theme of the IEC which is three-fold: the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, the liturgical celebration and the social dimension of the Eucharist.
The symposium would also give a glimpse of the current issues, problems and challenges regarding this sacrament in the different places and cultures of the world.
Workshops will also be held to come up with pastoral plans, strategies and programs.
Among the topics taken up so far were about “Christian virtue of hope” by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe and an exegetical discussion of a passage from the Gospel of St. John about the Eucharist by Fr. Francis Maloney.
Radcliffe is an English Dominican who formerly served as Master of the Congregation while Moloney is an Australian Salesian priest who is an author and editor of a good number of theological articles and journals.
On Thursday, Fr. Mark Francis, president of Catholic Theological University in Chicago, will speak on the delicate topic of “liturgy and inculturation”.
Also scheduled to speak is Italian Bishop Piero Marini, the president of the Pontifical Committee for the IEC, who will talk about the history of the “Novus Ordo” which refers to the Mass introduced by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II.
Bishop Marini has also served as the papal master of ceremonies for 20 years.
On Friday, the last day of the pre-congress event, Fr. Thomas Rosica, a famed columnist who also heads a Catholic media network, will speak about “Evangelizing the secular world.”
He will be followed by Dr. Josefina Manabat, the dean of the graduate school of liturgy of San Beda College, Manila and the lone Filipino and woman speaker, who will talk on the “Catechesis on the Sunday Eucharist.”
Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo, secretary general of the IEC local organizing committee, said that “the symposium is academic and theological, the congress is more pastoral.”