Aquino to speak, but after Calungsod thanksgiving mass

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CEBU CITY -- A high-ranking Vatican official and President Benigno Aquino III will attend the national thanksgiving mass for San Pedro Calungsod on November 30.

Aquino, however, will have to wait until after the mass before he can address the crowd.

The attendance of Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was already confirmed, said Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.


In a press conference on Monday, Cardinal Vidal said that the postulator for the cause of the sainthood of Calungsod, Augustinian friar Fr. Fernando Rojo, and Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron are also attending.

So far, the Church has raised about P42 million for the preparation expenses.

“We can’t report yet the whole amount (collected). There are so many things to do yet and funds are still coming in,” the 81-year-old prelate said.

Security at Pedro Calungsod templete
SECURING A CELEBRATION.  In a briefing Friday, Msgr. Dennis Villarojo goes over the security requirements near the template, where a national thanksgiving mass will be held on Nov. 30 in the South Road Properties, Cebu City. (Sun.Star Photo/Alex Badayos)

Yes, after

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama sees no problem with the President delivering a speech during the event.

“It is just like having a president in the Sinulog. During the launching, he was even present and there was a mass,” Rama said.

Cardinal Vidal received the commitment from the President that he will attend the event. “There was a request for a speech. He (Aquino) was allowed but (he will deliver the speech) after the mass,” said the cardinal.

Amid worries that the President’s speech will politicize the celebration, Mayor Rama said the priests already know what to do and have protocols for when dignitaries give speeches during religious celebrations.

The mayor also made a public plea during his news conference to curb petty crime, with the crowd projected to reach 500,000 to one million during the November 30 event.

Rama also urged the Cebuano people to pray that the templete at the South Road Properties will be ready at least a week before November 30.

According to the Vatican website, the congregation prepares each year everything necessary for the pope to be able “to set forth new examples of holiness.”


The congregation’s secretary is Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci and the under-secretary is Fr. Boguslaw Turek. There is a staff of 23 people. The congregation has 34 members, including cardinals, archbishops and bishops.

Elective officials in the towns in Cebu have also been invited to the event.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma also announced that Cardinal Vidal will be the main celebrant and homilist during the mass.

“If tan-awon sa process from the beatification siya (Vidal) ang mover and inspirer (He inspired those involved in the whole beatification process). Also, in the Philippine setting, he is the highest ranking (Church) official,” said the archbishop.

Calungsod was a Visayan teenager who joined the Jesuit missionaries in the Ladrones islands, which is now known as Guam.

He was the only companion of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, SJ, in teaching catechism and baptizing the Chamorro natives. Both of them were killed by the Chamorros on April 2, 1672.

Calungsod was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in March 2000 and was canonized together with six other blessed persons by Pope Benedict XVI last October 21, 2012 in Rome.

Archbishop Palma was grateful to friends, benefactors and volunteers working on the Cebu celebration and the activities in Rome, Italy for the canonization rites last month.

Good weather

“Cardinal Amato said the most popular saint was Pedro Calungsod, followed by Saint Keteri (Tekakwitha),” said Palma.

He recalled that the weather in Rome last month only improved during the canonization day, October 21, and that it had been rainy and very cold on other days.

“For the people, we ask for their prayers for good weather (for the national thanksgiving mass). That is a thing that is beyond our control,” Palma said.

“We can’t cover the SRP in case it rains hard,” he added.

The preparations for the mass include site development by SM Prime Holdings Inc., construction of the templete or site of the mass, transportation, accommodations for local pilgrims, liturgy and finance.

“We trust that what San Pedro Calungsod has done in Rome can also be done here. He’s (Calungsod) pushing the project. I think he really wants things to happen,” said Cardinal Vidal on the progress of the preparations.

Msgr. Dennis Villarojo, chairman of the Cebu celebration, said the preparations are on track but not all construction work is finished. The site development at the SRP was scheduled to be finished today, Tuesday.


Strict security measures will be in place at the mass site on November 30, said Cebu City Police Office chief Melvin Ramon Buenafe. He said a dry run for the planned security measures was conducted last Sunday, with 600 personnel present at the mass site.

The police chief also said an orientation was conducted on security operations and the contingent was informed on what to expect, considering that the mass site has no fences.

“We are considering all possible problems. We will have an augmentation and force multipliers,” he said. Personnel will be sent from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom).

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) will also be present.

Buenafe advised the people who will attend the religious activities to refrain from bringing along valuables like jewelry and large amounts of cash.

Msgr. Villarojo, meanwhile, reminded the people that there are three ways to reach the mass venue.

“The people can join the processions. From the parishes in the south, the assembly area is at the Talisay Fish Port while those from the north can go to D. Jakosalem and adjoining streets. Everybody is encouraged to join the procession,” he added.

No tickets

The second way will be through shuttle buses that will ply the SRP road from Talisay City Hall to the opening of the Cebu City tunnel at the corner of V. Sotto and R. Palma Sts.

“The third, and the easiest way especially for senior citizens and people with disabilities (PWDs), is the Mambaling flyover,” said Villarojo.

The people can take public jeepneys that would pass by Barangay Mambaling and then walk to the venue.

“There would be multicabs available to bring the people to the venue, where there will be golf carts for PWDs and senior citizens,” he said.

“There are no tickets, no passes needed to enter the venue. (But) there are passes for vehicles that would be distributed to parishes,” he added.

The council that oversees the preparations, led by Archbishop Palma and Cardinal Vidal, are hoping the celebration will be as successful as the celebration in Rome last month.

“The efforts to make the preparation meaningful, colorful paid off. What was important was the solemnity, ambience and fruitfulness of the event,” said Palma. (BAP/With Rachel Umpad, USJ-R Mass Com intern/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 20, 2012.

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