EVEN in death, the late Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal continued to be a man of peace, bringing together warring Cebu City political leaders in a mass offered for him yesterday at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
An emotional Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Socrates Villegas also officiated a mass for Cardinal Vidal yesterday.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña and the opposition, led by Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, and some councilors were seen together yesterday in teh City Government sponsored mass for the late prelate.
They were seen sitting on one pew and even exchanged smiles when the officiating priest asked the faithful to made the sign of peace.
Also present yesterday were Barug Team Rama Councilors Jose Daluz III, Joel Garganera, Raymond Garcia and Pastor Alcover and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Mary Ann delos Santos, Dave Tumulak and Eugenio Gabuya Jr.
Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north) was also with them.
Sen. JV Ejercito also paid his last respects to Cardinal Vidal during the mass sponsored by the City Government. He said Vidal encouraged him to remain strong in his faith.
“During our lowest moments, he was there to comfort us, to the point that I almost lost my faith. But because of him, my Catholic faith remains strong,” Ejercito said.
In his homily, Villegas shared how Cardinal touched the lives of everyone he met. He said Cardinal Vidal might have been petite, but the impact he had on the lives of others is immeasurable.
In an interview after the mass, Villegas said no one can replace Cardinal Vidal as he is irreplaceable.
“Cardinal Vidal is not an ordinary father. He is super extraordinary. It will never be the same without him because he’s unique in the whole world, I don’t think anyone can replace him,” he said.
Villegas said every encounter he had with Cardinal Vidal was memorable.
“I just met him few months ago, unfortunately I was not able to bid him goodbye at his confinement but every moment with him is memorable,” he said.
In an interview, the councilors recalled their memories with Cardinal Vidal.
Garcia said Cardinal Vidal is Cebu’s most unifying leader who served with humility and kindness.
“We will miss you badly but your contributions to Cebu and our entire nation will be a part of us forever,” he said.
Alcover said Cardinal Vidal has left a huge influence in the unity of the country and the Catholic Church.
Garganera said that since their parish church is the Cathedral, they will miss the cardinal dearly.
Former mayor Michael Rama also visited the wake of Cardinal Vidal early morning yesterday.
Rama described Cardinal Vidal as spiritual icon and a national leader.
Rama recalled that Cardinal Vidal was always their spiritual adviser, adding that when he formed his political group, they asked the blessing of the late cardinal.
Rama said it was also Cardinal Vidal who encouraged him to prioritize his safety.
He said Cardinal Vidal asked him to get security escorts when he was still vice mayor following an attempt on the life of the prelate when he officiated a mass in Talisay City before.
Cardinal Vidal’s 78-year-old barber, Elpidio Donal, also shared good memories with him.
He said he would never forget how Cardinal Vidal helped him financially when he was in need, particularly when one of his daughters took a board exam for dentistry.
“After I recovered financially, I handed Cardinal Vidal the payment of the money he gave me but he told me to keep it because he knew I needed it for my other children,” Donal said.
Donal has been the barber of Cardinal Vidal for 40 years, starting from the time he arrived in Cebu. (RVC)