The 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) gets under way on Sunday in the Philippine city of Cebu. Some 15,000 people from about 90 countries, and at least 1 million Filipinos, are expected to participate in the Jan 24-31 event, on the theme, “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory.”
A Eucharistic Congress gathers together the clergy, religious and laity to promote the awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church. It helps improve the understanding and celebration of the liturgy and draws attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist. A Eucharistic Congress includes Masses, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, prayers, devotional ceremonies, catechesis, exhibitions and other events, and are also organized at national, regional and diocesan levels.
Some 16 international speakers are expected to address participants during the 8 days of the IEC in Cebu, with translations in English, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, French, and Italian. Masses, prayers and liturgical celebrations will be held in seven languages. Besides a Eucharistic procession, adoration and benediction, the congress will also feature events such as workshops, films, concerts and stage plays, with organizers providing video streaming online.
The first International Eucharistic Congress was held in Lille, France, on June 21, 1881. Since then, Asia has hosted the international event four times. The first International Eucharistic Congress in Asia was hosted by the Philippine capital Manila, in Feb. 1937. Bombay, or Mumbai today, became the second Asian city to host it in Nov. 1964. It also became the occasion for the first ever visit by a pontiff – Blessed Pope Paul VI - to India. The 44th International Eucharistic Congress took place in Seoul, South Korea, in October, 1989. The choice of Cebu for the 2016 IEC was announced by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the last IESin Dublin, Ireland, in June 2012.
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