Updated: December 02, 2016 06:16 AM GMT
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo greets residents of an urban poor community in Cebu. (Photo by Victor Kintanar)
Residents of a poor hamlet from the village of Pasil in Cebu came out of their huts to see the man with a red hat who was visiting their community.
Children and women carrying babies slipped through the security cordon to kiss the hand of the visitor.
Myanmar Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Pope Francis' personal envoy to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, entered a compound built by the Salesian congregation in the middle of this poor urban community.
A group of dancing young people welcomed the cardinal who then joined in the dancing.
"I am very happy. The whole feeling when we were dancing goes beyond words," said Kyle Castro, a teenage girl who danced with Cardinal Bo.
The prelate stood up to thank the Salesians, the congregation he belonged to before he was named bishop. Cardinal Bo described how after his father died his parish priest brought him to the Salesians in Myanmar. The cardinal was only 2 years old at that time.
Cardinal Bo offered advice to the children sitting in front of him.
"Never blame yourself for your situation. Don't blame the parents, don't blame yourself, don't blame the situation and don't blame God," the prelate told the children who are under the care of the congregation.
"You must get up and work hard to become great for others," Cardinal Bo said.
"If you fall, get up at once. You can become priests, sisters, brothers, bishops. You can become prime minister, president, doctor, engineer."
Cardinal Bo of Yangon holds an image of the Child Jesus while dancing with young girls in a Salesian shelter in Cebu. (Photo by Victor Kintanar)
Seeing the basketball courts around, the cardinal told the crowd that he still plays basketball and that his shots are very good "when they are straight," drawing laughter from the young people.
"If you want to be happy, Don Bosco said, avoid sin like St. Dominic Savio," said Cardinal Bo. St. Dominic Savio, a student of Don Boso, is the first Bosconian saint who had "death rather than sin" as his motto.
"Don Bosco is always asking us: 'Do you want to be happy here? … We have to be always happy, shouting, playing basketball," said Cardinal Bo.
Korina Jane Tabay, a 17-year-old resident of the center, told Cardinal Bo that it was a "sign of blessing" for Filipinos to be visited by a priest, and more so by a cardinal and representative of the pope.
The girl then asked the cardinal to pray for the people in the community whose life is "hard and difficult."
"We have fewer opportunities compared with other young people. For some, we are bound with the influence of drugs; others lived in a very broken family; most of us lived in poverty," the girl said.
"Please pray for us that we may overcome all our struggles and difficulties in life," Tabay added.
A girl hands Cardinal Charles Muang Bo an image of the Child Jesus upon the prelate's arrival in a Salesian shelter in Cebu. (Photo by Victor Kintanar)
Published Jan. 29, 2016
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