Prelate to priests: ‘Send more poor delegates to IEC’

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IEC 2016 pilgrimage symbol is brought out in procession.

MANILA, Dec. 18, 2015 – Aside from hoping that more delegates from around the globe would join the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma calls on all priests to find more ways to shoulder the participation of more marginalized and financially challenged delegates in the gathering next year.

“We encouraged the parish priests of Cebu to sponsor the participation of the poor parishioners. The congress is not only for those who can pay. This is for everyone,” said Palma in a press briefing at the Arzobispado de Manila on Monday, Dec. 14.

He also called on all parish priests to organize a fundraiser to help send poor parishioners to the once-in-a-lifetime event aimed at deepening our love and faith in the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Greetings from Pope Francis

Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto echoed the sentiments of Palma by giving a challenge to all Filipinos to bring the Eucharist who is Christ “[to those] living alongside the people in the peripheries”.

“In the pilgrimage of Cebu, you take the Gospel with you and reflect on St. John’s Gospel [passage] on the bread of life. And nothing more,” said Pinto.

The Holy Father’s representative in the Philippines conveyed the “prayer and closeness of the Holy Father, Pope Francis” to the Filipino people as the nation prepares for the IEC.

Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Dennis Villarojo said “8,500 participants have already registered coming from 71 countries” which he describes as a “good representation”. He said more registrations are still being received by the event secretariat.

Celebration of mercy

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, meanwhile, reiterated the need for Catholics to remember that the Eucharist is the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to “remain with us until the end of times.”

“His presence goes beyond the Catholic Church…This is special for Catholics and prophetic for the whole world,” he said.

Tagle underscored the importance of the celebration of the IEC during the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy which Pope Francis officially opened during the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We hope that the celebration of the IEC will add to the celebration of the Year of Mercy to experience the mercy of God the Father,” he said.

2nd IEC in PH

Palma said the “importance of this congress is because of Jesus, because of the Mass. In Christmas, Jesus became Emmanuel, at every Mass he is the Emmanuel that is made present in our midst.”

“4 years ago I was anxious. Now I am excited…Go to Cebu and start with the Sinulog and continue with the Eucharistic Congress and know and experience why Cebu is the cradle of Christian civilization of the Philippines,” he said.

The first International Eucharistic Congress the Philippines hosted was held in Manila in 1937 where a young and soon to be cardinal-archbishop of Cebu, Ricardo Vidal, was among those who received their first Holy Communion.

Vidal will again be present in his second IEC in the Philippines this time as the celebrant of the penultimate Mass of the IEC and the archbishop emeritus of the host diocese. (Rommel Lopez / CBCPNews)

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