January 30, 2016, 10:25a.m. – CEBU CITY—Catholics were reminded of their duty to be united with God at all times through the Eucharist, in a Mass at the Cebu Provincial Capitol grounds that preceded a massive Eucharistic procession on Friday.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin called on Catholics to think of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) as a way to renew their “hunger and thirst” for the Eucharist.

“[The IEC] could offer our priests, bishops, and our children and families a hunger and thirst for the Eucharist, and an understanding of how central the Eucharist should be in our lives,” Martin said in his homily. 

“If we simply fill our hearts and thoughts with the superficial things, then we will extinguish our hunger for the Eucharist and will extinguish our hunger for what is essential,” he said.

Martin, who led the 50th IEC in Ireland four years ago, said Christians needed to embrace Christ and His Church as gifts and not as someone “we construct ourselves.”

“It is the Eucharist which constructs the Church, [and] being a Catholic Christian without being part of the Eucharist in this community is almost a contradiction. The Eucharist is at the heart of being a Christian,” the primate of Ireland said.

Archbishop Martin also reminded the faithful that Jesus offered himself in sacrifice, and they should do the same.

In brief closing remarks, Martin said he was “distracted” at the thought that people far away from the capitol could not hear him speak, and that his thoughts turned to the Filipino community in Ireland. He then asked the faithful to remember those who are unable to go to Mass.

The Holy Eucharist was concelebrated by the papal legate, Yangon Archbishop Charles Maung Cardinal Bo; Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma; Permanent Observer to the United Nations Archbishop Bernardito Auza; and Archbishop Piero Marini, Pontifical Committee for the IEC president.

The celebration started at 4:00 in the afternoon and was followed by an almost two-hour Eucharistic procession to Plaza Independencia via Osmeña Boulevard.

A special monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was mounted on a float bedecked with flowers. On the float were Cardinal Bo and archbishops Marini and Palma.

During the procession, IEC pilgrims lit candles decorated with capiz shells, specially made for the Cebu congress.

According to Supt. Romeo Santander of Cebu City police, around 300,000 people joined the Mass at the capitol site. 

CBCP News, quoting Cebu police, said more than a million pilgrims joined the Eucharistic procession, a high point of eucharistic congresses. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana and Lea Mat P. Vicencio


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