He was six-years old then, when the Philippines first hosted the International Eucharistic Congress in 1937.

Retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was among the young boys who received the first holy communion during that IEC held in Manila.

Many years after, the country will play host anew to the international gathering that will be held in Cebu City in January next year, and the now 84-year old cardinal will be there again to witness it.

Only this time, the young boy who once received his communion will be the one to celebrate Mass for the first communicants, one of the activities for the event.

“I heard they will put me as the main celebrant for the first communicants in the Congress,” Vidal said.

He said he feels “happy and privileged” to have been given a chance to be part of the gathering especially since it will be held in his former archdiocese.

Although many years have passed, Vidal can still vividly recall his first Eucharistic Congress from the concrete roads in Manila, and his first encounter with a cardinal.

Cardinal Vidal, who hailed from Marinduque, said it was his first time in Manila and the sight of the concrete roads amazed him.

“All the roads were concrete…[I said to myself) Manila is so rich!” he recalled in a gathering in Manila,

Vidal said it was also his first time to see a cardinal

“[I was thinking] what kind of a priest is he? All in red. He looked like a queen because of the 24 yards of train,” he said not knowing that years later, he too would don the same red outfit.

His Eminence also recalled the Congress song which they were asked to memorize.

He said they sang the song even if they could not even understand Spanish.

These are just some of the memories of the cardinal whenever he is asked to talk about the IEC.

And he is hoping that those who will attend the gathering, such as the first communicants, will also have unforgettable memories of their own.

Cardinal Vidal may already be old, he has difficulty walking, but his love for the Lord never wanes and it all started in the IEC, where he encountered Jesus when he first received His flesh (bread) and blood (wine) in Holy Communion.

Who knows? Among the first communicants next year is not only a future priest like Cardinal Vidal, but even a future pope.



Selies Galvez