The 51st International Eucharistic Congress officially opens

IECSeventy nine years after the Philippines first hosted the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Manila, the 2016 IEC kicked off in Cebu on January 24, 2016, with thousands of Catholic devotees worldwide in attendance.

The IEC opened with a High Mass at the Plaza Independencia at 4 pm. The mass was celebrated by the legate from Pope Francis, His Eminence Charles Maung Cardinal Bo.

The eight-day religious congress is expected to draw 12, 000 participants from 55 countries across the globe.

The Philippines first hosted the IEC in Manila in 1937, the first time it was held in Asia.

Dubbed as “Olympics of the Soul,” this year’s theme is “Christ In You, Our Hope of Glory.”


Here is the full video of Charles Maung Cardinal Bo’s homily.


Day 2 – January 25, 2016


Day 3 – January 26, 2016


Day 4 – January 27, 2016


Day 5 – January 28, 2016


Day 6 – January 29, 2016


Day 7 – January 30, 2016


Day 8 – January 31, 2016


Closing Homily – January 31, 2016


Message of Pope Francis


51st International Eucharistic Congress – Theological Symposium

IECMore than 1,500 participants attend the 3-day International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Theological Symposium at the Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU) which started on January 20 and will end on January 22, 2016.

The Theological Symposium is serving as an underpinning for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress that will be held from January 24 – January 31, 2016, in Cebu. The theme of the IEC 2016 is “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory.” (Col. 1:27). The 33rd IEC on 1937 was held in Manila, the first for the country and has returned only in the Philippine shores after 79 years.

Among the topics to be taken up are the Christian virtue of hope, an exegetical discussion of a passage from the gospel of St. John, liturgy and inculturation, the history of the “Novus Ordo”, the evangelization of the secular world, and a catechesis on the Sunday Eucharist.

The topics have been chosen for their relevance to the theme of the IEC which is three-fold: the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, the liturgical celebration and the social dimension of the Eucharist.

It is hoped that the symposium would give clear ideas to those who are not yet familiar with the theological understanding of the sacrament, or otherwise would offer a review if not deepen the knowledge of those who already have studied and are availing of it.

The symposium would also give a glimpse of the current issues, problems and challenges regarding this sacrament in the different places and cultures of the world.

Workshops will also be held to come up with pastoral plans, strategies and programs.

Day 1 – January 20, 2016

Day 2 – January 21, 2016


Day 3 – January 22, 2016



Here is the homily for the Concluding Mass for Day 3 of the ‪#‎IEC2016‬ Theological Symposium by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD.

Sinulog Festival and Santo Niño Devotion in the Philippines


“Viva Pit Señor!” That’s what the people of Cebu City, Philippines, chant throughout the Sinulog Festival, held every third Sunday of January. It is the month when one of the grandest and most colorful festivals of the Philippines is celebrated. The Sinulog Festival is celebrated in honor of the Santo Niño, the Child Jesus, the Patron of Cebu and the Philippines and reminisces the time when Filipinos embraced Christianity in the 16th century. The word ‘Sinulog’ is from the Cebuano language adverb ‘sulog’. It means “the rippling of water or water current movement.” Its adaptation describes the forward-backward step movement of the Sinulog dance, performed by many during the Festival.

The actual historic event, which the Sinulog Festival commemorates, occurred on 7 April 1521, when Fernando de Magallanes, a Portuguese navigator, landed on Cebu Island in the central Philippines and claimed the area in the name of the King of Spain. Until this date the Philippines practiced indigenous, Asian, and Islamic religions.  Magellan gave the Santo Niño wooden statue to Rajah Humabon’s wife, Hara Amihan, as a baptismal present. Rajah Humabon was Cebu’s ruler at that time. In honor of Carlos the First’s mother, Juana, Hara Amihan’s name was changed to Queen Juana. 800 natives together with their rulers were baptized into Christianity. Unfortunately, shortly after the conversion, Magellan went into reckless adventure by fighting the reigning ruler of Mactan Island, Rajah Lapulapu, with only a handful of men. He was killed in the encounter on 27 April 1521.

The remaining members of Magellan’s expedition returned to Spain to report the incident and the possibilities for conquest. It took 44 years before a new group came and began the conquest and formal Christianization of the islands. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived in Cebu on 28 April 1565. His ships bombarded the native villages and inside one of the burning huts, a soldier named Juan Camus found a wooden box containing the Santo Niño statue.

Historians say that during the 44 years between the coming of Magellan and Legaspi, the natives continued to dance the Sinulog. This time however, they danced it no longer to worship their native idols but as a sign of reverence to the Santo Niño.  The original intact Santo Niño statue is now enshrined at the San Agustin Church (renamed Basilica Minore del Santo Niño) in Cebu City.

The Sinulog originated with the original candle vendors who sell their wares in front of the Augustinian Church of Cebu. They were the first, a couple of hundred years ago, to do the forward-and-backward movement of the prayer-dance of petition and thanksgiving to the Santo Niño. The movement is said to imitate the sulog (flow) of Cebu City’s Pahina River. While dancing–waving their lighted candles–the women chant “Pit Señor! Pit Señor!” Many, even Cebuanos, don’t know what the chant means until told that “pit” is the abbreviation of the word sangpit – which is Cebuano for “to call the name of” and therefore “Pit Señor” means say “Hail, Lord!”

The participants in the Sinulog Festival wear bright-colored costumes and dance to the music made by trumpets, native gongs, and drums. The streets are full of people eager to witness the beauty of the festival and to pay homage to the Santo Niño. The Santo Niño Sinulog Festivals are also held in other parts of the Philippines and in other countries around the world.

sinulog 2016Traditionally, the Sinulog Festival is celebrated for nine days. The ninth day culminates in the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade. A reenactment of the Christianizing of Cebu follows at the Basilica. A solemn procession is held in the afternoon along the city’s major streets. This usually lasts for hours due to multitudes of participants. A Pontifical Mass headed by the Cardinal is held at the Basilica. Bishops of Cebu assist in this event. Devotees and others populate the Basilica to attend the mass. Afterward, they all head out to the streets to witness the Sinulog Festival Grand Parade.

This is the event around which the Sinulog Festival revolves. The main theme of the Sinulog dance is Queen Juana, with the Santo Niño in her arms, blessing the people that are ill, poor, etc, and needing the healing of Santo Niño.

The Santo Niño Devotion is an important part of Filipino religious life and the Sinulog Festival is a time for joyful and colorful celebration. For a spectator on the street, it’s a beautiful scene to behold. But for participants doing street dancing, it’s a way to show their devotion to God. The Santo Niño Devotion is not a form of idolatry. The Child Jesus is one manifestation of Jesus, the Son of God, who died for us on the Cross, to save us and to offer us Eternal Life.   Other forms of Devotion to Jesus Christ include the Sacred Heart, Devine Mercy, Holy Name, and Eucharistic Adoration.

Start of the Annual Assembly 2016

The Annual Assembly is one of the most important activities of the Philippine Region. It is normally held in the beginning of January in Cagayan de Oro City. This year the assembly started on January 4 and will end on January 8, 2016. The purpose of this gathering is to evaluate the activities of the Region and plan new ones. The theme of the Annual Assembly 2016 is “‘Servants of God’s Mercy’ (MV 17); Answering the call of the Founder ‘Go, let the World know the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus'” and was inspired by the “Misericordiae Vultus”, the Bull of the Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis and conclusions of the XXIII General Chapter in Rome “Merciful, in community, with the poor.” As usual it started with a short recollection conducted by Fr. Dariusz Drzewiecki, MIC, who helped the group to reflect on the theme of the “Year of Mercy” and was followed by the Community Reconciliation facilitated by Fr. Szymon Bendowski, SCJ, personal confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The whole afternoon of the first day was dedicated to personal sharing of all the participants who tried to answer the three following questions: What do you consider as most significant experience of the past year 2015? How can your experience of God’s mercy help to draw others closer to Christ? and What possible changes in your life do you hope to effect during this Year of Mercy? The activities of the first day were concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Francis Pupkowski, SCJ, the superior of the Philippine Region.

On the second day of the assembly the different committees and communities will report their activities of the year 2015.  Wednesday and Thursday will be the core of the activities.. It will consist of three workshops allowing the assembly to identify the “lights and shadows” and challenges lying ahead of the Philippine Region, and come out with concrete plan of action. The method that will be used during these workshops is: SEE, JUDGE and ACT.

The assembly is attended by thirty five participants (35), members of the Philippine Region and guests. Among the guests there are: Fr. Paulus Sugino, the General Councilor for Asia, Fr. Luca Zottoli, the General Treasurer from Rome and Fr. Thai Tran, the representative from the District of Vietnam.