LOCAL government officials commended all who helped with preparations for the recently concluded International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), while a church official looked forward to a “revival of faith.”

Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that organizers, led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, are still coming up with concrete plans to make the IEC more memorable.

But “aside from increased piety and devotion, we expect to see more people having an active participation in their parishes,” Tan told Sun.Star Cebu

In their session yesterday, the Cebu City Council commended several agencies for helping the 51st IEC succeed.

Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he was also considering extending help to those who worked hard on the preparations, up to post-event activities of IEC.

The council commended the entire Cebu City Police Office and Cebu Provincial Police Office, as well as the military’s Central Command for securing the week-long series of activities, particularly the Statio Orbis mass in the South Road Properties (SRP) last Sunday.

Fr. Joseph Larida of the IEC’s local organizing committee and thanked law enforcers and different government agencies for securing the events. He attended an assessment meeting yesterday held by the Police Regional Office.

“They are very competent and sacrificing. They all tried their best to secure all our activities and our participants,” said Larida.

Tangible effects

Both spiritual and secular concerns mixed during the week-long congress. Non-delegates who joined moving events like last Friday’s procession and the Visita Iglesia on the night before that also had to contend with traffic that built up around closed roads.

Hundreds of thousands walked to the SRP last Sunday to share the experience of the IEC’s closing mass, and hear Pope Francis’s challenge for Catholics to bring God’s “message of tenderness, forgiveness, and mercy” to a world in dire need of them.

So what happens now?

In a briefing during the IEC, Archbishop Palma revealed that one proposal was to construct a “House for the Poor and Homeless” to serve as a reminder of the 51st IEC in Cebu.

The details have yet to be threshed out.

Around 12,000 delegates from 71 countries attended the IEC, which, until recently, the Philippines last hosted in 1937.

At the council, Councilor Dave Tumulak sponsored the resolution commending those who helped with IEC events.

The Council also acknowledged the Cebu City Transportation Office for supervising traffic and dealing with irate motorists when roads had to be closed.

Cleaned overnight

Also commended by the council were the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, Association of Barangay Councils, Cebu City Health Department, Cebu City Medical Center, Philippine Red Cross, Emergency Response Unit Foundation, All-Terrain Medical Relief Organization, and medical and non-medical volunteers.

The City, Labella said, plans to give incentives to some City Hall and barangay workers, including members of the City Environment and Sanitation Enforcement Team, Department of Public Services, and Barangay Environment Officers, among others, for working even after the mass last Sunday.

He said he was impressed when the 26-hectare grounds in front of the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine in the SRP had no garbage early yesterday morning.

After every Sinulog, when street cleaners stay up to make sure the city’s streets are trash-free on the morning after the parade, City Hall usually gives one sack of rice each as an incentive to its employees who worked overtime.

Labella said he will consult the City Council and the Local Finance Committee on the matter.

‘Touching’

The acting mayor said he was touched by how the City and private sector worked together to prepare the templete for last Sunday’s mass, attended by an estimated one million persons.

“That was a display of how unity and cooperation among all of us can make a difference. There was a moving part in the preparations when you saw all those who tried their best to dry the site. Matandog ka magtan-aw nga all sectors, private and government, tanan nag tinabangay (It was very touching to see everyone, both from the private sector and government, helping one another),” Labella said.

Interviewed separately, a high-ranking official of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 said that security measures implemented for the closing mass paid off.

“Everything went well,” said Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, PRO 7 director.

Appreciation

He led his personnel in assessing their implementation of security plans for the IEC, which started last Jan. 24 and ended last Sunday.

“It was successful, but we don’t want na ganun na lang...We want to be better next time, that’s why we are meeting now,” he said.

Gaerlan admitted they had limited resources and a spell of bad weather set them back, but they persevered with their security efforts.

Interviewed separately, Monsignor Tan said he hoped that more parishioners will be more aware of the poor among them and attempt to reach out.

He said he hoped “that more people will appreciate what the Holy Eucharist is; that it is not just a sacrament but an important part of our culture as Catholics.”