By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Jose Santino S. Bunachita October 24,2017 - 11:18 PM

Many churchgoers, such as this woman, are in tears during Tuesday’s Mass at the wake of the late Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

It will be a Day of Mourning for Cebu City on top of its being a holiday when Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal will be laid to rest in a “simple yet rich in meaning” funeral rites.

The Cebu City Council yesterday declared October 26, Vidal’s burial day, a “Day of Mourning.”

Although there were no specific activities lined up by the city on the burial day, Councilor Raymond Garcia, who authored the resolution, said he expected the declaration to encourage more people to join the burial of Vidal.

“This is just an expression of the sentiments of the Cebu City government and to encourage the people to join and pay their homage and last respects to the late Cardinal Vidal,” Garcia said.

According to Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, this was the first time that the city has declared a “Day of Mourning” in honor of a person who passed away.

He said the declaration reflects not just the sentiments of the Cebu City government but also that of the residents of the city.

“This is the first time. Because Cardinal Vidal has really touched the lives of many Cebuanos and you can feel and see the outpouring of emotion on the death of Cardinal Vidal. I think it is a collective statement. It is the consensus of may not be all, but most of the Cebuanos,” Labella said.

Tomorrow was also declared as a special nonworking holiday for the entire Cebu province and the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu by President Rodrigo Duterte, who, on Sunday, made an unscheduled trip to Cebu and visited the wake of the prelate.

The council also passed a separate resolution by Garcia expressing the city government’s sympathy and condolences to the family of the late Cardinal Vidal and the people of Cebu “who are mourning the loss of a great man.”

At least 24 bishops and 500 priests

Select members of the clergy and religious organizations who played significant roles when Vidal was archbishop of Cebu for 29 years will have special tasks to perform in this Thursday’s Requiem Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, which is expected to draw thousands of people from the different parts of the country.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will preside over the 9 a.m. Mass while Vidal’s long-time secretary, Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo, will deliver the homily.

At least 24 bishops have so far confirmed to attend the funeral of Vidal. Among them are the three remaining cardinals of the Philippines: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, the incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; and Msgr. Gabriel Viola, the secretary of Papal Nuncio Gabriele Giordano, will also be present.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, the spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said they were expecting about 500 priests from the different parts of the country, particularly his hometown Marinduque and from the cities of Lipa, Malolos and Lucena — places where Vidal was assigned — to attend the funeral Mass.

“We regret to inform the public that the main pews in front and the side of the altar are reserved for the priests. The public, however, can stay at the balcony and the rear pews inside the cathedral,” he said.

Large LED screens will be mounted inside and outside the church compound to allow the people to watch the funeral Mass and burial.
The liturgy will also be aired live over the Cebu Catholic Television Network.

Security measures

Around 300 policemen will be deployed to secure the people during Vidal’s funeral, said Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas.

He said they will implement strict security measures, including the inspection of bags for those who will enter the cathedral, during the event.

“We’re expecting dignitaries to come, so we have to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said in an interview.

At the start of the funeral Mass on Thursday, a large white cloth or “pall” will be laid on Vidal’s coffin by four priests who were given the title of “monsignor” during his stint as cardinal.

They are Monsignors Guillermo Gorre, Arthur Navales, Alfredo Romanillos and Vicente Tupas.

The white cloth recalls the baptismal garment as a sign of Christian dignity, which must be unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.

“We are clothed with the armor of the Lord as we go to heaven,” said Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, a former secretary of Vidal and a liturgist of the archdiocese.

Vidal’s younger brother Juanito will lay the crucifix on top of the casket while Fr. Benedict (religious name) of the Society of the Angel — a congregation that assisted Vidal during liturgical celebrations — will put the Book of the Gospels on the coffin.

Fr. Glenn Therese Guanzon, the chairperson of the Archdiocesan Commission on Worship, said Vidal’s coffin will not be placed on a bier or stand, and will instead be positioned on the ground.

“That is to symbolize the abasement of the ‘earthly man,’ and a sign of humility before God,” he explained in a press conference yesterday.

Identified as coffin bearers were Msgr. Rey Penagunda and Msgr. Daniel Sanico, the two vicar generals of the archdiocese; Msgr. Achilles Dakay, the media liaison officer during Vidal’s time; Msgr. Joseph Tan, the current archdiocesan spokesperson who was the archdiocese’s treasurer during Vidal’s time; Msgr. Agustin Ancajas, the former private secretary of Vidal; Msgr. Roberto Alesna, the former vicar general; Msgr. Adelito Abella, the former chancellor; Fr. Joseph de Aquino, the last secretary of Vidal; Fr. Expedito Torrevillas, Vidal’s master of ceremonies; and Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson, the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of San Pedro Calungsod.

A nun of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese will read the first reading, the responsorial psalm will be sang by a seminarian, while the prayers of the faithful will be read by representatives of the different local religious congregations.

Hymns during the funeral Mass will be sang by the San Carlos Seminary College Choir led by the renowned composer and musician Msgr. Rodolfo Villanueva.

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