Tagle: We are all home, in the house of our God
MANILA, Philippines—“Now, we are all home.”
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Wednesday welcomed back thousands of parishioners and devotees and a host of special guests and VIPs to the storied Manila Cathedral, resplendent with its glimmering lights, shiny marbles and fresh paint, after two years of massive repair work and restoration.
In his homily at the concelebrated Holy Mass to mark the reopening of the cathedral, Tagle stressed that the basilica, which has been repeatedly destroyed by earthquake and fire in its colorful history spanning four centuries, continued to rise because of the people’s generosity and expertise.
“We cannot reconstruct, rebuild and strengthen the church without generosity of the spirit,” he told the guests, which included President Aquino and his sisters Kris Aquino, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz and Viel Aquino Dee, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and wife Loi Ejercito and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
Tagle also thanked those who lent their expertise in rebuilding and restoring the 16th-century cathedral and the nameless people whom he had encountered on the street, giving him their share of donation as small as P50 just to help in the reconstruction of the church.
The cathedral was closed to the public starting Feb. 7, 2012, to make way for the work that took more than two years. The cathedral’s origin date back to the 16th century. The endeavor, the first to be made on the structure since 1958, cost roughly P120 million.
In an assessment made two years ago, cracks were noted on key sections of the basilica, which compromised its structural integrity. It also revealed that some of its columns and beams did not meet the standards set by the 2010 National Structural Code of the Philippines.
“It just dawned on me that I took canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Manila on Dec. 12, 2011, and one of my first decisions as a new archbishop was to close my cathedral,” he said, drawing laughter from the churchgoers.
To rise again and again
“Now, we are all home. Welcome home to this house of the Archdiocese, the home of our God and the home of our Mother,” he said.
But more than the homecoming, Tagle said the story of the cathedral-destroyed by disasters only to be rebuilt again to its old beauty and grandeur-also symbolized the ability of Filipinos to rise from sufferings, especially those affected by recent calamities.
“I believe that how the Manila Cathedral rose many times from the rubble to be beautiful again, the Filipinos can also rise from their feet,” he said.
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