Calungsod thanksgiving mass a success

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

CEBU CITY -- Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal urged Filipinos on Friday to be good Christians and citizens, and follow the life of San Pedro Calungsod.

Vidal, who led the thanksgiving mass for the canonization of the Visayan martyr, said the activity that is attended by about one million people serves as homage to San Pedro’s sacrifice.

The Visayan catechist died as a teenager while on a Jesuit mission in the Ladrones islands, now called Marianas islands.


"A life nipped in the bud but is now in full bloom," said Vidal in his homily.

The police estimated that about a million people endured the heat to join the processions and the mass at the South Road Properties (SRP). The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration reported that the temperature on Friday reached 29.9 degrees Celsius.

“San Pedro preferred to die and compelled by love of Christ, I quote: ‘There is no greater love than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends’,” said Vidal.

Apostolic Nuncio Giussepe Pinto, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop Emeritus of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and 70 bishops co-celebrated the mass that was also attended by President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar Binay, some Cabinet secretaries and local government officials. Watch replay


Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe and Talisay City Police Chief Superintendent Eddie Recamara said the event was “generally peaceful.”

There were two petty theft incidents, though. Due to the thick crowd, some children were separated from their parents, but other than these, the police reported no other incidents.

Some of the participants of the three-kilometer procession and mass felt faint or dizzy because of heat and exhaustion, but they received proper medical care from Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation volunteers.

Buenafe said that one of their challenges was crowd control after the event, but he said they were able to manage it.


The fluvial parade also proceeded and ended smoothly, except for a mechanical problem experienced by the galleon carrying the image of San Pedro, said Cebu Coast Guard Commander Rolando Punzalan.

Punzalan said that 10 minutes after Galleon San Diego left the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City for Lapu-Lapu City, the vessel experienced a steering problem and headed toward the wrong direction. A tug boat had to be deployed to bring the galleon to the SRP.

Thirty-six sea vessels joined the fluvial procession that ended at the SRP at 4 p.m.

The Naval Force Central, Central Command, the Philippine Air Force and other local agencies also joined the fluvial procession.


Centcom spokesperson Lieutenant Cristopher Tampus said they deployed two to provide an aerial view and an additional security at the mass site.

As early as 5 a.m., about 1,500 police officers and 1,000 military officers were deployed to the SRP.

The preparations for the national celebration began in January this year after Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle that was credited to the intercession of Pedro Calungsod. It was the last step for Calungsod to be canonized a saint.

The canonization rites of Calungsod and six other blessed persons were held in Rome last October 21.

During the mass on Friday, church officials were assisted by about 15,000 lay people, religious priests, nuns and brothers.

The program at the templete started with a prayer and singing of Our Father at 2 p.m.


After the prayer, 76 carrozas from different parishes in Cebu Province started to arrive. The carrozas joined solemn processions that started at two points: the fish port in Talisay City and on M.J. Cuenco Ave. in Cebu City.

At the end of the mass, Pinto addressed the crowd and gave the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI.

He reminded the people to follow Calungsod's example "to make the decision to become disciples and proclaim the faith."


After the mass, a re-enactment of the life of San Pedro was presented, followed by a youth concert and fireworks display.

Cebu City officials said the successful celebration of the thanksgiving mass proved that Cebu City is capable of hosting big events.

“It served as a preview of how the City can handle huge celebrations,” said SRP manager Roberto Varquez.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama thanked everyone who helped in the preparations and those who participated in the event.


The mayor also acknowledged the efforts of the private individuals who helped with the construction of San Pedro Calungsod’s templete, as well as those who developed the 27-hectare property where the mass was held.

In an interview on Friday, Varquez disclosed that Cebu City has been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to host the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in 2016. Although there is no specific venue for the international event yet, Varquez said, the mass site is an ideal place.

He raised the need to preserve the mass site. He said it may also be used for sports activities, among others.


Recamara said Talisay City Police security plans were implemented with ease.

He said, though, that only 25,000 people joined the procession, way below their expected 200,000.

Agriculo Cerenio, 58, barangay chief of Caunting in Barili town, said he and his family joined the festivities on Friday not only to ask for blessings but also to honor Calungsod.

Cerenio said witnessing the thanksgiving mass was a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience for him and his family.


While he also had to secure the carroza of his parish, PO3 Celso Diaz of Balamban town said he joined the three-kilometer foot procession to the templete to ask for blessings from Calungsod.

"Wishing for a good health for me and my family, and for a good career," Diaz said.

The Theft and Robbery Section of the CCPO arrested two pickpockets during the activity on Friday. The suspects were brought to the Mambaling Police Station. (BAP/JBT/PDF/JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 01, 2012.

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