Cebu prepares for Cardinal Vidal’s momentous funeral

Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. CDN FILE PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO

CEBU CITY – The funeral of Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal will be simple yet rich in meaning.

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 liturgy 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. funeral Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Cebu City.

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Vidal’s longtime 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 were 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 are expecting about 500 priests from the different parts of the country, particularly from Marinduque, Lipa City, Malolos and Lucena City—places where Vidal used to be 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 view the funeral Mass and burial.

The liturgy will also be aired live over the Cebu Catholic Television Network.

Around 300 policemen will be deployed to secure the people during Vidal’s funeral.

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Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, 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.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared October 26 a holiday in the entire city and province of Cebu to give people the chance to attend Vidal’s funeral.

The President on Monday midnight visited the wake of the cardinal who was the Catholic Church official who visited him in Malacañang days after he assumed his post in July 2016.

He cited Vidal’s contribution as a “man of peace.”

At the start of 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 Guilleromo 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 cloth 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 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, who served as treasurer; 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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