Knights support Eucharistic congress in the Philippines

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One year after Pope Francis made his historic visit to the Philippines in January 2015, the Asian nation is hosting another major Vatican event with the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City.

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 are serving as delegates to the congress and many others are key figures in the Masses, presentations, processions and publicity for the weeklong event, Jan. 24-31.

Knights guard the Blessed Sacrament at the massive Eucharistic Procession of the 51st IEC.

Knights guard the Blessed Sacrament at the massive Eucharistic Procession of the 51st IEC.

In addition, the Supreme Council is 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.

Bringing together some 15,000 official delegates from around the world, the International Eucharistic Congress features presentations by members of the hierarchy 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.

Among the scheduled featured speakers are Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who has been a member of the Knights since his days as a Columbian Squire; Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, state chaplain of Mindanao; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chaplain of the New York State Council.

The congress opened with the arrival 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.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, a Knight for nearly 40 years, welcomed Cardinal Bo at the start of Mass and announced the theme of the congress: “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory,” taken from the first chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, producer of the popular “Catholicism” series that aired on U.S. public television stations, spoke Jan. 26 on “The Eucharist: Celebration of the Paschal Mystery.” Remarking on the vibrant faith of the Filipino people, Bishop Barron said that the nation can serve as an example of cultural engagement and evangelization. Although the culture in many other countries is against the values of sacrifice and self-giving, he said, people can be brought back to God through the Eucharist, and in that way a culture can slowly change. (

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