The story (h/t Fr. Patrick Longalong):
Cebuanos and delegates to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) currently being held in this city trooped to the Cebu Provincial Capitol and filled its surrounding streets to hear the Mass led by Dublin, Ireland Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
According to Fr. Roberto Ebisa, SVD, of DYRF, Police Chief Inspector Ryan Debaras estimated the crowd that gathered for the Mass and procession to be nearly 2 million. Streets leading to the Capitol were closed to make way for the millions of people joining in the international Catholic gathering dubbed as the “World Youth Day of adult Catholics”. Candle-bearing delegates and pilgrims from Cebu and around the world chanted hymns and prayers as the carriage carrying the monstrance made its way slowly from the Capitol through Osmeña Boulevard towards Plaza Independencia while a choir led in the chanting of the Litany of the Saints and other hymns.
In his homily, Martin reminded the people that “the Church became present through the Eucharist, through the Holy Communion.” No Eucharist, no Church “There is no Church without the Eucharist. The Eucharist constructs the Church,” he said. Martin was joined at the makeshift altar by Papal legate Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations Archbishop Bernardino Auza, and president of the Pontifical Committee on IECs Archbishop Piero Marini as well as hundreds of bishops and priests.
The Primate of Ireland said Christians need to realize that Christ came to us as a gift and not as someone “we construct ourselves.” He then urged Catholics to model their lives as a celebration of the mystery of the life and love of Jesus Christ. “We are called to understand, love and assimilate the very love of Jesus… Our lives too must be offered in sacrifice.” Martin, who is archbishop of the last diocese to host the IEC said that the Christian community, a “Eucharistic community”, must always be a caring one. Special monstrance Last Thursday, the Cebu provincial government declared no work at the Capitol on Friday via its official social media accounts to give way for the preparations for the Holy Mass and the Eucharistic procession.
The monstrance, specially designed for the IEC, was placed on a pedestal in an open-top truck decked with flowers. Thousands followed the procession while others waited at the sides, carrying lighted candles or praying the rosary.
Fourth degree Knights of Columbus in full Honor Guard regalia led the procession followed by women in white veils and the rest of the crowd.
On Sunday, millions are expected to attend the Statio Orbis Mass (Latin for “Stations of the World”) or Concluding Mass of the 51st IEC at the South Road Properties. The term was first used to describe the concluding celebration of the 37th IEC in Munich, Germany in 1960. The phrase came to refer to the global nature of the gathering for the closing Mass of each IEC.
The faith is alive and well in the Philippines. Praise God.