By Ferdinand G. Patinio
MANILA, Jan. 14 (PNA) — The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has asked the Filipino people to make the Holy Father feel their warmth in welcoming him in the country.
“I am calling on the people of God to welcome Pope Francis with all our hearts, with all our minds and with wide open arms,” said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
He added, “I encourage you, my dear people of God, to line up the streets he will take, watch the papal vehicle pass by and be blessed by the sight of the Pope passing our way going around the city.”
The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate also urged the faithful to carry the images of saints while waiting for the pontiff to pass by on his way to papal events in Metro Manila.
“Bring out your family images of the saints and the Blessed Virgin. Bring out your Santo Ninos and crucifixes. Bring out your heart in welcome!” he said.
Villegas added, “Every step he makes, every car ride he takes, every moment he stays with us is precious for us. Seeing him pass by is a grace. Waving our hands at him in loving welcome is an experience of a lifetime.”
On Jan. 15, the Pope will arrive from Sri Lanka at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, and will be heading to the Papal Nunciature on Taft Ave., Manila, where he will stay until Jan. 19.
The following day, Jan. 16, the Holy Father will have a meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III, the members of the Diplomatic Corps, and government officials in Malacanang.
On the same day, he will officiate a Mass at the Manila Cathedral at around 10 a.m. for the bishops, priests and religious men and women.
In the afternoon, Pope Francis will meet families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. He will then proceed to the Nunciature after the event for his rest.
On Saturday, the Pope will be in Leyte, particularly in Tacloban City and Palo, where he will also hold a Mass at the Tacloban International Airport.
Among his schedule for the day are: the lunch meeting with the survivors of the earthquake in Bohol and super typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Samar in 2013 at the Archbishop’s place.
He will also bless the Pope Francis Center for the poor.
On Jan. 18, the Holy Father will be at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila for the meeting with the youth and leaders of different religious groups.
After the UST event, the Pope will go back to the Apostolic Nunciature.
In the afternoon, he will hold a Eucharistic Celebration at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, where millions of people are expected to attend.
Early in the morning of Jan. 19, the Pope will be at the Villamor Air Base for his departure for Rome. (PNA)