NEVER give up and never lose hope in the future.
These were the words of encouragement of Archbishop Charles Maung Cardinal Bo of Myanmar, papal legate of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), to inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
Bo is the representative of Pope Francis to the IEC. He and other church officials watched the dancing inmates of the provincial jail perform yesterday afternoon.
They arrived at the facility at 3 p.m.
“Eucharist is about hope. We pray for your future. Some of the great men and women in history went through a fear like yours but what distinguished them was they never gave up hope,” he said.
Bo told the inmates that whatever happens, even if they lose everything, they should never lose hope.
“When man closes one opportunity, God opens many,” he added.
Despite the drizzle, 800 of the more than 2,500 inmates performed two numbers wearing their trademark orange uniforms and white gloves.
They first danced to the tune of “They don’t care about us” by Michael Jackson and then to the IEC’s official song “Christ in us, our hope of glory.”
Bo told the inmates that what they shared was a meaningful offering. He even joked that he would’ve wished he was able to dance with them.
“The most moving moment of this trip to this beautiful country is watching you dance with the perfection, which I have not seen elsewhere,” he said.
“Your dance is a beautiful love letter directly sent to the hearts of all of us. Thank you for your love. Daghang salamat,” he said.
Noting that it was drizzling while they performed, Bo reminded them that “life is not about waiting for the storms to pass but it is learning to dance in the rain.”
After his message, Bo and the other church officials went down to the jail quadrangle to meet and shake the hands of some of the inmates, including Dante Duran.
Grateful for the visit
He has been in prison for almost nine years for frustrated and attempted murder.
“I felt my hair standing on end when he approached,” he said in Cebuano.
Carlo Vitero, who has been in prison for six years because of illegal drugs, said he is happy to have met a high official of the church.
“My heart was beating really fast. My hair also stood on end,” the 24-year-old said.
A teary-eyed Lito Granada, who is the mayor de mayores of the jail, thanked Bo for taking the time to visit them.
“We are very grateful and very happy that we were made a part of the IEC activities. We are even happier that there are people who went out of their way to visit us, prisoners,” said Granada, who spoke in behalf of the inmates, in Cebuano.