January 31, 2016, 10:17a.m. – CEBU CITY – THE 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) here became the venue for 5,000 children from parishes all over the Philippines to receive their first Holy Communion.

Despite the heat, first-time communicants together with their parents trooped to Cebu City Sports Center yesterday for the Holy Mass led by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Most of the children receiving the Body of Christ for the first time were from the streets and those with disabilities.

Vidal, who had his first communion during the 33rd IEC in Manila in 1937, emphasized the importance of faith in God and belief in the goodness of others as a source of real happiness.

“This is the joy of believing. Believe in God,  believe in yourself, in people. Believe in the presence of Jesus in others,” Vidal said in his homily.

Vidal said the faithful should continue to uphold love in living out their Christian lives. “If we continue to believe in love, God will show us the way. Jesus teaches us the real power of love,” Vidal said, explaining Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Communicants came from the dioceses of Novaliches, Pasig, Ilagan, Dumaguete, Samar and Leyte, Pagadian, Digos, and the IEC host, Cebu.

The Mass was followed by presentations from winners of last week’s Sinulog Festival. Elementary division champion Pundok sa Kalanggaman of Cebu City Central School wowed the IEC crowd with their performance inspired by the 2011 animated movie, “Rio.”

High school division winner Apas National High School featured Christian doctrines in its dance concept. Sinulog Hall of Fame winner Tribu Lumad Basakanon also performed.

The Sinulog Festival is an annual religious and cultural event held every third Sunday of January in celebration of the Feast of the Sto. Niño. The festivity’s highlights are the street dance competition and a grand procession of the icon. John Gabriel M. Agcaoili and Krystel Nicole A. Sevilla


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