CEBU CITY—President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday led other government officials and more than a million devotees in a National Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod.
Four cardinals, 54 bishops and archbishops and some 700 priests from at least seven countries concelebrated the Mass held in a small temple built on the reclaimed South Road Properties (SRP).
The Thanksgiving Mass drew devotees from more than 140 parishes in Cebu who braved the blistering sun and the long wait to join the procession to the temple.
In his homily, Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal extolled the virtues of St. Pedro Calungsod and urged the faithful to make him an example of love, courage and obedience to God.
“Let [our] faith empower us to be faithful followers of Jesus and dutiful citizens of our country. Let us no longer live [in] dual citizenship, [being] good Christians but bad citizens. Such duality cannot exist. If we have to be Christians, let us be good citizens as well, observing every just law, practicing justice in all our affairs [and] being honest in word and in deed,” said the 81-year-old prelate.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma asked Vidal to lead the Thanksgiving Mass since the cardinal was widely acknowledged as the prime mover behind Calungsod’s canonization.
“Let our laws be directed to serve [the] common good as well as the ultimate good, [making us] good citizens of this country as well as the other life,” Cardinal Vidal added.
As early as 6 a.m., devotees started to converge at the fish port in Talisay City, Cebu, and at Basilica del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City, for the 5 p.m. Mass. Most of them joined the procession to the temple since SRP had been closed to traffic since 10 p.m. of Thursday, and only vehicles with passes issued by the Archdiocese of Cebu could get through.
Also allowed to pass were the 18 shuttle buses that ferried people to the Mass and at least 20 golf carts and three electric cars from Mandaue City that were used to transport the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Amid the sea of people were 76 carrozas gaily decked with flowers from different parishes.
In nearby Mandaue City, the boat San Diego left port at 2 p.m. to bring the meter-tall wooden statue of St. Pedro Calungsod to SRP. The boat was remodeled to resemble a 17th-century galleon and traveled in a fluvial procession with at least 35 other seacraft.
Among those who joined the fluvial procession were Felisa Juanico, a 59-year-old teacher, her husband Federico and six others, including their children, in-laws and grandchildren, who came all the way from Biliran province on board a Navy Forces Central patrol gunboat commissioned to help secure the fluvial parade.
Juanico, a member of several church groups, said she came to ask St. Pedro Calungsod’s intercession so that youngsters who come to her Catholic ministries would heed her counsel.
At about 2:30 p.m., the devotees and their carrozas made their entrance at the 27-hectare SRP field to await the arrival of the image.
Security was tight at the site where 12 LCD screens were mounted to allow devotees to see the altar.
At half-past 3, the San Diego dropped anchor some 200 meters from the SRP port where the image was lowered onto a proa, the canoe-like boat from where natives of Guam threw the bodies of the teenage cathechist and Fr. Diego de San Vitores after they were speared to death on the island on April 2, 1672.
On board the proa at the Cebu celebration was Fr. Charles Jayme, custodian of the Calungsod image that was then brought to the port where cathechists were waiting.
Among those who joined the procession was Amando Fuentes, 52, a St. Pedro Calungsod devotee for five years.
“This seldom happens so I am setting [aside] today as a sacrifice for [St. Calungsod] even if it’s extremely hot,” he said, adding that he wanted to strengthen his faith as well.
Also present during the liturgy were Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints; Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle; Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales; Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto; and 54 bishops and archbishops from Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Taiwan, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore and Mongolia.
The celebration was capped by a cultural show and a fireworks display, after which Church leaders, government officials and their guests proceeded to Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City for dinner.
Friday’s events wrapped up the Church-organized postcanonization activities that included a national tour, the launch of a commemorative book on the canonization and a commemorative St. Pedro Calungsod stamp, a triduum of Masses, and a film-showing and a play depicting the life of the teenage martyr.
First posted 9:18 pm | Friday, November 30th, 2012