THE Solidarity Communion Committee (SCC) of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) seeks the participation of the poor in the event.
Fr. Carmelo O. Diola, SCC chairman, said that this responds to one of the aims of the IEC, which is to “draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.” He said that without this dimension that is intrinsic to the Eucharist, the Holy Mass becomes an empty ritual.
The SCC is one of the 35 committees created for the IEC.
“We are quietly preparing 500 street and very poor children for first communion on Jan. 30, 2016. About 50 of them come from seven dioceses outside Cebu,” Diola said.
“Our present Cebu network consists of eight parishes and 14 groups. Most meet weekly and feed children. Several have been reaching out to the poor even before the IEC,” Diola said.
What is new, he said, is the eight-session catechesis on the Eucharist and the individual profiles on the candidates for the first communion.
“We are seeing beautiful changes. In at least three groups of about 100 children, for instance, most children have gone back to school,” Diola said.
The SCC has also conducted a parish-poor survey so that the parish team would meet the poor face-to-face, know who they are, where they live and what they need.
The survey serves as basis for an Archdiocesan-wide corporal and spiritual works of mercy to be implemented during the IEC. In 2015, several parishes reached out to the poor in an organized manner.
“We can do something. There is hope,” Diola said.
He said a symbolic effort to address the social dimension of the Eucharist is the Table of Hope, a meal for the poor to be held a day before the start of the IEC.
This is a collaborative effort between the Archdiocese of Vancouver (Canada) and the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Diola said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) protocol to “rescue” street children and families during the IEC by keeping them away may have some value but which is shortsighted and superficial.
“It also caters to compliance-only mentality,” Diola said. He urged DSWD to work with the Church for an organized charity.
The SCC initiative towards street children, for instance, involves barangay officials who will gather the children and catechists who will teach the children about the faith.
The Government must create a more welcoming space for local communities to get involved in outreach to the poor, Diola said.
“Reaching out to the poor is no walk in the park. It is not a quick fix. But we have to start somewhere. We begin with solidarity,” Diola said.