Visas, papers for Cebuano pilgrims
This early, the Cebu Archdiocese is setting strict ground rules to ensure that Cebuano pilgrims who apply for visas to attend the Oct. 21 canonization rites of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in Rome will return to the country.
Msgr. Achilles Dakay, chairman of the committee on pilgrims, said certain requisites have to be complied.
“We are very careful. We have to make them realize that this is a pilgrimage. You have to return. This is not a shopping spree,” Dakay said in an interview yesterday.
At least 900 persons have registered with accredited travel agencies so far which the Cebu Archdiocese will assist in securing visas from the Italian Embassy.
Dakay said so far they are expecting over a thousand from Cebu to fly to Rome for the event.
As part of visa requirements of the embassy, pilgrims have to submit financial statements and other documents to show they have the capacity to travel abroad and return to the country, said Dakay.
Second, as a condition of the Archdiocese, they need a certification from their parish priest to vouch that they are Catholics.
“The priests should be held responsible for their return,” said Dakay.
Third, applicants must undergo a catechism lecture on the the life of Calungsod, the first Visayan martyr.
Four of at least 11 Cebu travel agencies have already closed their list of applications: DelMar Travel, SunTravel, Land and Sky Travel, and Worldwide Travel.
Dakay said the archdiocese, through Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, requested the Italian Embassy to issue the visas for pilgrims.
“We’re hoping they (embassy) send someone here,” Dakay said.
The normal route for Filipino tourists heading for Europe is to undergo a personal interview in the Italian Embassy in Makati.
Vidal’s request simplifies the process of securing travel documents.
Around 50 Cebu clergy members are expected to be part of the delegation to Rome, said Dakay.
He said some Cebuanos are availaing of tour packages to Marian shrines and the Holy Land but they have to be at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the canonization rites on Oct. 21.
Those unabel to travel abroad can watch the rites aired live on cable TV through the Eternal Word Television Network.
A national Thanksgiving Mass will also be held at the South Reclamation Project in Cebu City on Nov. 30.
A 100-day countdown to the Oct. 21 canonization of Calungsod will be launched on Saturday, July 14, in Cebu and Manila.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday repeated her offer to use the Capitol as venue for the Thanksgiving Mass and related activities in Fuente Osmeña.
“They could use some of our facilities as holding rooms for our bishops. They could hold the Mass there in our social hall,” Garcia told reporters.
“I told them if you should consider Fuente Osmeña then we would by all means be very welcoming,” she added. /With Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus
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