01/23/2016, 14.02

Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, a "new stimulus" for bearing witness in Asia

Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, will participate in the great international meeting, which opens tomorrow in the Philippines. Catholics are a "little flock in Asia, but involved in bringing the Gospel to the whole continent." Even non-Christians come to Eucharistic celebrations to “pray devoutly before the Eucharistic Lord,” yet “respectfully stay away from communion”.

Ranchi (AsiaNews) - The "little flock" of Catholics in Asia "is committed to and motivated by the Christian proclamation. I have no doubt that, despite the numbers and the work of fundamentalist forces, our witness will be strengthened by the meeting in Cebu because, with God’s strength, everything is possible, and in the Eucharist Christ gives us his very self,” said Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, India, who will lead the opening prayer of the second day of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu next Monday (25 January).

“The Catholic Church is a small minority in Asia,” he told AsiaNews, “the ‘the little flock’ as Saint Pope John Paul II used to say. When the decision about proposing the hosts for the 2016 IEC was being made, Cebu was one of the four candidates. Besides the long absence of the event from Asia, the witness aspect was one of the most important factors that tilted the balance in favour of Cebu.

“The Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of Christian life,” the prelate noted. “I am sure that the event will have a galvanising effect on the Church in the Philippines and in Asia.  I am sure that the massive participation of devout Filipino and Asian Catholics will also be a witness to the rest of the world. It will be a unique experience and I am sure the love of the Eucharistic Lord will be felt throughout Asia and bring much fruit to our evangelising work.”

Many of those who will speak at the Congress will touch the topic of dialogue. “The Eucharist has always been an inspiration to our non-Catholic brethren. In fact, many of them participate in our Eucharistic celebrations and respectfully stay away from communion, understanding that this is a moment only for Catholics.”

At the same time, “Non-Christians come and pray devoutly before the Eucharistic Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the IEC, just like the National Eucharistic congress held in Mumbai (India) in November 2015, will be a fulcrum of dialogue between religions.”

The Eucharist is also a constant stimulus for evangelisation. “People here are very open to the Gospel and evangelisation takes place in various ways. Fundamentalist forces are creating direct and indirect hurdles for us, but the spirit of evangelisation is strong. The Eucharist is a very important evangelising moment. We require prayers and support to carry it on. With the strength of the Lord, all things are possible.

Finally, Mgr Mascarenhas said that he “attended the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Committee for International Congresses held in April 2015 in Cebu. I saw the enthusiasm and the dedication with which the preparations were going on. For me it will be a moment of enrichment and renewed dedication to my vocation, my ministry, my people and my evangelising work.”

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