Knights Serve as Leaders at Eucharistic Congress
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus, is shown with his fellow bishops in the background at the International Eucharistic Congress. Fourth Degree Knights (shown at right) are providing honor guards during the eight-day event in Cebu.
One year after Pope Francis made his historic visit to the Philippines in January 2015, the Asian nation hosted another major Vatican event with the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Jan. 24-31.
The Knights of Columbus has more than 350,000 members in the predominantly Catholic country, where the Order began operations in 1905. Hundreds of Knights served as delegates to the congress and many others were key figures in the Masses, presentations, processions and publicity for the weeklong event,
In addition, the Supreme Council was a major sponsor of the congress, providing funding for the satellite uplink to broadcast the proceedings worldwide, and for the publication of a daily newspaper and other media materials that are provided free to all participants.
In a satellite telecast that was broadcast at the conclusion of the congress, Pope Francis said, “The theme of the Eucharistic Congress – ‘Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory’ – is very timely. It reminds us that the risen Jesus is always alive and present in his Church, above all in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his body and blood. Christ’s presence among us is not only a consolation, but also a promise and a summons. It is a promise that everlasting joy and peace will one day be ours in the fullness of his Kingdom. But it is also a summons to go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child. How much our world needs this message!”
The congress opened with the arrival Jan. 24 of Pope Francis’ personal envoy to the event, Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, who offered Mass for tens of thousands of people at Cebu’s Independence Plaza.
Bringing together some 15,000 official delegates from around the world, the International Eucharistic Congress also featured presentations by clergy and leading theologians, catechetical sessions for various age groups, youth rallies, visits to local parishes, and charitable outreach to the poor, the imprisoned and those still suffering from the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the central region of the Philippine archipelago in November 2013.
A number of members of the hierarchy who are longtime Knights of Columbus were featured speakers over the course of the week. Among them were Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who spoke on “The Eucharist and the Dialogue of Cultures”; Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, who spoke on “The Eucharist Makes the Church”; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, whose topic was “The Eucharist and Mary.”
As the official host of the congress, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, a member of the Knights for nearly 40 years, issued a closing statement.
“We are convinced that the Holy Spirit sends us forth in order to proclaim the story of Jesus. This congress is like the gathering of the early disciples when they joyfully shared stories of how each of them encountered the risen Lord in the Scripture and in the breaking of the Bread,” he said.