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‘Good progress’ in Cebu preparations as host

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol July 09,2014 - 09:03 AM

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (center) fields questions from reporters as Anne Griffin (left), general manager of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland and Fr. Vittore Boccardi, secretary of the pontifical committee on IEC listen. Griffin and Boccardi were impressed with the preparations for the 51st IEC in Cebu after they were briefed about what the local organizers have been doing to make the Jan. 2016 event a success. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

January 2016 is 18 months away, but preparations for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City are on track.

Two IEC organizing officials— one from Rome, Italy and another from Ireland— visited Cebu to inspect venues, including the building site of a new Pavilion to seat 15,000 delegates and other preparations for the international gathering set for Jan. 24 to 31.

“People are very focused…. very good plans are in place with timelines, and check mechanisms,” said Anne Griffin, general manager of the 50th IEC in Ireland in 2012.

But she said it’s the “great joy” that animates volunteers and organizers that will ensure its success.

“It (IEC) is not going to be just a week-long event. It actually started when you began preparing for it,” she told a press conference at the Archbishop’s Residence in Cebu City.

Asked about the expenses, Griffin said Dublin (Ireland) spent at least 11 million euros for the IEC in 2012 but benefited from having 15,000 Catholics from all over the world attending each day of the conference.

“At the end of it all, there were great returns economically and spiritually. It’s worth the investment. The blessings were many and they continue to pour down on us,” Griffin said.

Fr. Vitorre Boccardi, secretary of the pontifical committee of the IEC, said they “were very impressed” with the progress of the local committee is preparing for the 51st IEC.

Msgr. Dennis Villarojo, secretary-general for the IEC in Cebu City, said he was “very positive” that generous international benefactors would help raise funds.

“In time we will give official figures when figures are more precise,” he said.

Other modes are being pursued like the “Piso Para sa Misa ng Mundo” and even a “Euro para sa Misa ng Mundo” version abroad, with corporate sponsorships.

“The budget for the 2016 IEC is a work in progress. Internally, we know how much money we need to raise but as of the moment, we prefer not to reveal it yet. In time, we will give you the numbers,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Cebu is constructing a 15,000-seat Eucharistic Pavilion in the seminary compound in Mabolo to serve as main venue for the 2016 congress.

Despite the last year’s supertyphoon and 7.2-magnitude earthquake, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is optimistic that Filipinos would still contribute for the success of the IEC.

“I know people are more than generous to donate. Deep in the human heart is a longing for something more than ordinary food or drink. People know that we need God and the best way to express it is through the Mass,” the prelate said.

Griffin advised the IEC local committee to “stay focused” and keep in mind the significance of the event.

“Don’t lose sight of the end. Enjoy the journey now,” said Griffin. She and Fr. Boccardi first visited Cebu in September last year.

It is not certain if Pope Francis will visit Cebu for the congress but Palma said they continue to “hope” he does. The Pope has confirmed his earlier visit to the Philippines on January 15, 2015.

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TAGS: Catholic, IEC, International Eucharistic Congress

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