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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pope's Visit, A Moment of Grace for the Philippines

It’s official. Pope Francis is visiting the Philippines on January 15, 2015.
This was revealed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday as the Catholic Church released the official itinerary of the Pope as he embarks on his apostolic trip two months from now.
Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the Philippines, following Pope Paul VI in 1970, and Pope St. John Paul II in 1981 and 1995.
According to the CBCP, the Pope is scheduled to arrive at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 5:45 p.m. on January 15 from Colombo, Sri Lanka and will be met by President Aquino and Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.
There is no other activity listed after the Pope departs Villamor following the arrival ceremony   but it is expected that he will be in the company of priests and will stay at the Nunciature by tradition.
Malacañang has readied a welcome ceremony for the Bishop of Rome who will pay President Aquino a courtesy visit in the morning of January 16. This will be followed by a meeting with authorities and the diplomatic corps at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall inside Malacañang where the Holy Father is expected to say a message.
From Malacañang, Pope Francis will motor to Intramuros where he will celebrate mass for the bishops, priests, and religious groups at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral).
Later in the day, he will meet with families at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Pontiff and his delegation will depart early by plane for Tacloban City where he will say mass near the Tacloban International airport shortly after arrival.
After the mass, Pope Francis will have lunch with selected survivors of super-typhoon “Yolanda” at the Archbishop’s Residence in Palo.
By 3 p.m., the pontiff will bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor also in Palo followed by a meeting with priests and the religious sector and families of the survivors at the Palo Cathedral.
He will depart for Manila after the event and is expected to arrive at the Villamor Air Base early evening. 

The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas (UST) , the Catholic University of the Philippines, will have the distinct honor to host Pope Francis on its hollowed grounds on January 18 where he meets with the religious leaders of the Philippines shortly after 9 a.m.  After he meets with the religious leaders, the Pope will meet with youth groups at the UST Sports Field where thousands gathered to participate in the World Youth Day led by Pope John Paul in 1995.
UST is the only university to have been visited by three popes four times: once by Pope Paul VI on Nov. 28, 1970; twice by Saint Pope John Paul II on Feb. 18, 1981 and January 13, 1995; and Pope Francis.
Last Oct. 29, at the end of the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family, Francis beatified Pope Paul VI.
His day will be capped with a mass at the Rizal Park in Manila schedule at 3:30 p.m.
On the last day of his visit, there will be a leave-taking ceremony at the Presidential Pavilion of Villamor Air Base in Manila at 9:45 a.m.
And at 10 a.m., the Holy Father will leave Manila for Rome.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, asked Filipinos not only to extend a warm welcome to the Pope but to open their hearts to what message the visit of the Holy Father will bring.
“Let us open our hearts to the message he will bring and, even now, extend the love, mercy, compassion and kindness that he practices to one another, that he may find in our country a blessed, kind, and grateful people,” Villegas said in a statement.
“Let us all work and act together to make his visit a moment of grace for us and our country,” he added.
Villegas hopes that when the Holy Father comes he may also see in Filipinos the living God.
“When Pope Francis comes, he will show us the face of God. When the Pope sees us Filipinos, may he see the living God in us,” Villegas said.
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