Indigents treated as VIPs in banquet organized by IEC delegates

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More than 1,000 local indigents were treated to a feast by the Archdioceses of Cebu and Vancouver, Canada, in a kick-off activity for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City.

Cebu City (CNN Philippines) — More than a thousand local indigents were treated with free meals during the kick-off of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu.

The Archdioceses of Cebu and Vancouver in Canada hosted the ‘Table of Hope’ banquet on Saturday (January 23), where poor families were also given bags containing canned sardines, one kilo of rice, and a bottle of water.

The event is a prelude to the IEC, which officially starts on Sunday (January 24).

Most guests were children, aged 12 years old and below.

According to organizers, the activity was held in response to the call and of Pope Francis — to have compassion, to share, to feed, to serve and to love the poor.

Treated as VIPs

The guests, who were considered “very important” for the event, were given a banquet style service by volunteers from the New York-based Aquinas Institute and members of the Couples for Christ organization.

The guests enjoyed a bountiful menu, which consisted of Cebu Lechon, spaghetti, chopsuey, cake, and cocktails among others.

A Sinulog dance was also performed to entertain the guests.

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According to Fr. Carmelo Diola, the designated activity organizer, the purpose of the banquet is “to make the IEC meaningful to the ordinary people” as well as “to give them a dignified participation in the congress.”

The number of guests, according to Diola exceeded their initial preparations for only one thousand people.

Diola said he considers this as a blessing as delegates of the IEC will be able to instill on more people the goodness of God.

The Table of Hope banquet also symbolizes the feeding of the multitude by Jesus Christ as told in the Bible.

Priests and IEC delegates from Hungary, the United Kingdom, Italy, and other European countries also joined the event and ate alongside the indigent guests.

Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel contributed to this report.