Filipino pilgrims urged to return home after Calungsod canonization
MANILA, Philippines – The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Friday raised fears that Filipinos scheduled to attend the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in Rome in October might suddenly drop out of sight and join the TNT (“tago nang tago” or always in hiding) bandwagon.
“We will go there to celebrate the canonization and not to take the opportunity to stay there because that is not good,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.
TNT is a local term that refers to Filipinos who stay overseas without proper documentation and keep hiding from authorities to avoid deportation.
Last year, it took a while before some Filipino delegates who attended the World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, came home.
“We assured the Italian Embassy that all the precautions, orientations, catechesis were given to the pilgrims,” Palma said over the Church-run Radyo Veritas on Friday, giving an affirmation that the Filipino pilgrims who will attend the event will not become TNTs or undocumented immigrants.
Pilgrims are allowed to stay for only two weeks in Rome for the event, he noted.
“I think two weeks is more than enough time for a normal pilgrimage. The event in Rome is only four to five days in connection with the canonization. All the rest are pilgrimages,” he said.
“Almost 31 days are left before the canonization and almost all the committees have already signified their readiness for the day,” he added.
The number of pilgrims joining the Vatican was still unknown although the CBCP earlier said that around 3,000 people had requested visa endorsements from Palma to be able to witness the canonization of Calungsod on October 21.
The Cebu Archdiocese said it was setting strict ground rules to ensure that pilgrims who apply for visas will return to the country.
“We are very careful. We have to make them realize that this is a pilgrimage. You have to return. This is not a shopping spree,” Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the archdiocese, earlier said.
A mere teenager, Calungsod was among the first to serve on a mission organized by Fr. Diego de San Vitores to Ladrones Islands in the Western Pacific, Marianas, on June 16, 1668.
Trained by the Jesuits, Calungsod mastered catechism and learned how to read, write and deliver discourses in Visayan, Spanish and Chamorro.
On April 2, 1672, he and Father Diego were speared with a cutlass by two villagers in Tumhon, Guam, for catechizing and baptizing the natives.
Calungsod will become the second Filipino saint after Lorenzo Ruiz.
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