CEBU CITY, October 27, 2017–Applause rang out as Cardinal Ricardo Vidal’s coffin was brought out of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral for a funeral procession along the city streets.
Government officials, dignitaries, and people from all walks of life joined the religious, priests and bishops on Thursday In an emotional outpouring of sympathies at a funeral that drew thousands to Cebu.
The procession, which lasted about 30 minutes winded through at least six major streets while the choir was singing the Litany of the Saints before it headed back to the cathedral.
Surrounded by bishops and the cardinal’s family, the Cardinal’s remains were interred at a mausoleum located at the back of the cathedral’s sacristy.
Tens of thousands of people from different provinces jammed into Cebu City since the 86-year-old cardinal died on October 18.
The 1-hour funeral rite began with the choir singing the hymn “I am the Bread of Life”. Cardinals wearing their red robes and dozens of bishops in their violet vestments processed to the altar together with a good number of priests.
Archbishop Jose Palma, the successor of Vidal, presided at the Mass.
But the young Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo was the homilist for the massive crowed gathered in and outside the cathedral.
Villarojo, who became a bishop in 2015, was the cardinal’s long-time secretary until he retired in 2010.
“The burdens you carried in this world have worn out your body,” he said. “Thank you for carrying us all on your shoulders, and sorry for having been too much of a burden at times.”
“Rest now faithful servant. You are truly a child of God,” the bishop said..
Love for priests, ‘gift’ of peacemaking
In his homily, the bishop also recalled his good memories with the cardinal including his utmost concern for the priests and his ability for peacemaking.
Villarojo recalled his last conversation with the cardinal few days before the latter was rushed to the hospital last October 11.
“It was in fact your last word to me and one I consider the most important, when you said, ‘Take care of your brother priests.’ I have always known that you love your priests so much, until the end they were foremost in your mind,” he said.
The prelate, who assisted Vidal for 13 years, also lauded the cardinal’s “gift of peacemaking”. “You stood your ground and remained neutral even to the point of being misunderstood,” Villarojo said
“The moral high ground you took enabled you to broker peace among factions knowing that some of our quarrels are not really based on principles but on personalities,” he added.
Villarojo also said that the cardinal mastered the “art of reaching out to people” and “sow seeds of goodwill,” be it with powerful politicians or ordinary priests.
“Instead of making public pronouncements, you made personal visits. Instead of merely issuing pastoral letters, you formed the people’s conscience by catechesis and grassroots organization,” he said.
Local authorities said around 55,000 people joined the funeral, including priests and laypeople from the dioceses of Lucena, Malolos, and the Lipa archdiocese— places where Vidal previously served.
Also in attendance were the country’s three remaining cardinals—Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, and Gaudencio Rosales, Manila’s archbishop emeritus.
Vidal is the sixth prelate to be buried at the mausoleum after Cardinal Julio Rosales, Bishop Sincero Lucero, Archbishop Manuel Salvador, Archbishop Mariano Gaviola, and Bishop Juan Bautista Gorordo.
Vidal, the fourth Filipino cardinal, retired from his episcopal ministry after serving the Cebu archdiocese for 29 years.
He was the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines at a time when the bishops issued a pastoral letter that criticized as “fraudulent” the 1986 snap elections.
Unknown to many, he also played a vital role in avoiding bloodshed during the EDSA 2 that prompted former President Joseph Estrada to resign in 2001.
Until his death, Vidal remained a prominent voice in the Church and in politics.
Throughout the Mass, Cardinal Vidal’s coffin was placed on the ground.
Fr. Glenn Guanzon, the archdiocese’s chief liturgist, said it was to symbolize the cardinal’s “abasement and humility”. CBCPNews