DAY OF HOMAGE
People from all walks of life came to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral to pay their last respect to and mourn the death of Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal
Edith Bontuyan, 65, never had a personal interaction with Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.
But she, like hundreds of ordinary Cebuanos, braved the traffic, headed to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Cebu City from her home in Mandaue City, and lined up with many other ordinary folks to get a final glimpse of the man who, she said, represented everything that is good about humanity.
She saw Vidal only during the times that she attended the Masses he had officiated, but for Bontuyan, the late prelate’s charism was exceptional.
“Ligdong. Mao gyud na ang akong makita sa iyang panagway. Ang iyang pagkamapinanggaon pud sa bisan kinsa. Mao na akong pag-ila ni cardinal (He was an upright man. You saw it in his face. He cared for everyone. This was what I know about him),” she said.
Having felt or heard of his sincere and genuine affection, hundreds, even those from other religious groups, came to pay homage to the Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu.
Even those from opposing political camps momentarily set aside differences and sat in the same room to pay their respect to a man famous for brokering peace.
Pope Francis, on Thursday, expressed the grief of the Catholic Church over Vidal’s demise.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu,” the Holy Father said in a telegram addressed to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.
“Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father.
“As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Lord, to all who mourn his passing in the certain hope of the Resurrection, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.”
Vidal’s death reduced the number of cardinals around the world to 219, of whom 120 are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a papal election. Vidal participated in the conclave electing Benedict XVI in 2005 but not in that of Pope Francis in 2013 since he was already over 80.
Palma said Vidal will always be remembered as a person who totally dedicated his life to the service of the church.
“We thank the Lord for giving us His Eminence (Vidal) to the Archdiocese of Cebu. We have experienced his love as a father. He walked the talk and sacrificed himself even in the final weeks of his life,” he said in a homily he delivered during a Mass at Vidal’s wake at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Thursday evening.
Even if the cardinal was already weak, Palma said Vidal never hesitated to accept invitations for him to preside over Masses in the different parishes in Cebu.
“Thanks be to God for giving us a good shepherd. He is a very good example to us,” he said.
Palma, who was appointed by the Holy See as Archbishop of Cebu following the retirement of Vidal in 2011, said the church has entrusted the cardinal back to the Lord — the owner of the vineyard where they work.
“The Lord has given. The Lord has taken away. The time for our beloved cardinal to return to our maker has come. His mission on earth is finished. All we can say to God is ‘Amen.’ Your will be done,” he said.
At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo presided over a Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral during the second night of Vidal’s wake.
Vidal died at the intensive care unit of the Perpetual Succour Hospital in Cebu City at 7:26 a.m., surrounded by family, priests and his closest confidants. He was 86.
His interment at the Cathedral’s mausoleum is set at 9 a.m. on October 26, Thursday, said Archdiocesan spokesperson Msgr. Joseph Tan.
At 8 p.m. tomorrow, October 21, Vidal’s body will be brought to the San Pedro Calungsod Shrine inside the Archbishop’s Residence in Cebu City. The date marks the fifth anniversary of the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod, the first Visayan martyr and second Filipino saint, whose process for sainthood was spearheaded by Vidal.
Tan said the archdiocese has yet to decide whether or not to bring Vidal to another place on Sunday. But Vidal’s body will return to the Cathedral either on Sunday or Monday and will stay there until the burial date.
No photos please
A public viewing is held at the Cathedral round the clock. Tan, however, appealed to the people not to take photos of the cardinal inside the coffin.
“Please refrain from taking photos of him out of reverence. We would rather remember Cardinal Vidal as a vibrant figure in our society. We want to have a living memory of him, not his dead body. We want to preserve the legacy that he was a force to contend with,” he explained.
Tan said some close-up photos of Vidal inside the coffin were disseminated on Facebook last Thursday.
“I’m sure these people mean well. They just want to share the news. But please, we appeal to them to remove it,” he said.
Tan said several leaders of the church and the state are expected to visit the wake of Vidal.
He said they were grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for the latter’s message of sympathy shortly after Vidal died.
“Within hours after Cardinal Vidal’s death, the official spokesperson of the President issued a well-said expression of condolence and sympathy to the archdiocese, highlighting the fact that they have a cordial relationship with the cardinal who visited him in Malacañang right after he assumed office,” Tan said.
The other government officials who visited Vidal’s wake on Thursday were Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Sen. JV Ejercito.
The city government of Cebu also offered a Mass at the Cathedral at noon yesterday, attended by Mayor Osmeña and his wife Councilor Margarita Osmeña, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, Councilors Dave Tumulak, Joey Daluz, Joel Garganera, Raymond Alvin Garcia, Jun Alcover, and North District Rep. Raul del Mar, among other City Hall officials and employees.
With regard to those who raised queries on where to give donations as part of the Filipino tradition during wakes, Tan said the archdiocese has requested him to personally take charge.
“We are not calling for donations, but if there are well-meaning institutions or individuals who want to give alms, we will accept it but will not use it for the burial for Cardinal Vidal. Instead, we will use it to spend for something which is close to the heart of the cardinal,” he said, hinting it will likely be used for charitable purposes.
Palo Archbishop John Du, in a separate interview, said he was saddened by Vidal’s death.
“I’ve been with him for more than 20 years here in Cebu. I served as his auxiliary bishop for three years. I am very sad of his death. He’s very loved by the people here. He has a very endearing kind of personality. Because of that, he also gets the love of the people,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Du, a native of Bantayan, Cebu, celebrated Mass at Vidal’s wake last Thursday.
He said Vidal will be remembered for his simplicity and love.
“He was very fatherly and simple. That’s the most admirable thing about him. No sophistication. He was very approachable. I understand why people always go to him,” he said.
“You would admire him, not just as a cardinal but also as a person. He will be missed by Cebuanos and the whole of the Philippines,” he added.
Fr. Expedito Torrevillas II, the former liturgist and master of ceremonies of Vidal, said it was the cardinal who gave him a chance even if, when he was a seminarian, he was unsure of his vocation.
“I was in and out of the seminary. But he changed my life. He even sent me to Rome for further studies. I was not the most upright and intelligent priest, but he trusted me,” he said in an interview.
Torrevillas, who was considered as Vidal’s “right hand” during Masses from 2008 to 2011, also accompanied the cardinal during the wake of former pope and now St. John Paul II in Rome in 2005.
He said he will always be grateful for the experiences with Vidal.
“Thank you, Cardinal Vidal. I know the Lord is with you. I hope you will remain with us,” said Torrevillas.
On a personal level, Torrevillas said he would always be grateful to Vidal for paying his father’s hospital bills when the latter got sick.
“He told me, ‘Kawawa naman ang pari ko, bata pa pero marami nang utang (I pity my priest. You’re still young yet have several debts),” he said.
Master Yung Ling of Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple also went to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral last Wednesday evening to pay his last respect to Vidal.
Ling said that Cardinal Vidal had been supportive of the activities of the Buddhist community in Cebu.
The master remembered that Vidal sent the Sto. Nino Choir during their Siddharta musical to show his support to them and was very supportive of their activities.
Malo Manonggiring, director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos in Central Visayas (NCMF-7), said they are planning to visit Vidal’s wake.
Although he said he did not personally know Vidal, he had heard he was a “very good person.”
Rodelia Dagodog, the laundrywoman at the Archbishop’s Residence, said she could not contain her emotions when she learned about Vidal’s death.
She said Vidal treated her and her children as his own family, even helping her eight children finish their studies.
“Even if he already transferred to his retirement house in 2011, Cardinal Vidal never forgot us, even sending us gifts and financial assistance,” said Dagodog. “We will surely miss Cardinal Vidal. He was so good to us.” /With reports from Jose Santino Bunachita and Nestle L. Semilla
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