Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the reopening of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception held on April 9, 2014.
Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. On behalf of His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Cathedral-Basilica Foundation, and of its Vice Chair, Ambassador Tita de Villa, its Treasurer, Mrs Marixi Prieto, its Executive Director, Monsignor Nestor Cerbo, its Trustees and of my own behalf as President of the Foundation, I welcome all of you.
Lubos po kaming nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat. lalong lalo na sa ating Pangulong Benigno Aquino III and his sisters Ballsy, Viel and Kris, Pangulo ng Senado Franklin Drilon at Ginang Mila Drilon, at Dating Pangulo at ngayong Punong Lungsod ng Maynila Joseph Estrada at Senadora Loi Estrada. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sent her regrets because she is Baguio presiding over the summer sessions of the Supreme Court. Maraming salamat din po sa mga donors, lalong lalo na sa San Miguel Group, with President Ramon S. Ang at Metrobank Group with Chairman George S. K Ty, Justa Lee, and Antonio Oppen.
Let me also greet the great mass of faithful representing the 92 parishes of the Archdiocese of Manila at 10 representatives for each parish, and the different organizations led by Caritas representing the underprivileged, the infirm and the disabled, who together with the trustees of our Foundation, will participate in the Holy Mass that will shortly follow.
After two years of painstaking retrofitting and restoration, the Manila Cathedral-Basilica reopens today with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Cardinal Tagle together with the bishops of the archdiocese and the pastors of its parishes. Before we show a short audio visual on how the cathedral had been retrofitted and restored, let me say that the word “church” in Catholic tradition has two meanings, first, it refers to the material or concrete structure; and second, to the community of faithful, the church goers. The church building exists to serve the church community who are called by God to love Him and to love one another in worship, spirit and truth.
A cathedral is the ecclesia caput et mater omnium ecclesiarum or the head and mother church of all churches in the archdiocese. It is the home of the entire archdiocese, presided by the archbishop. According Vatican II, the cathedral-church is the place where the faithful, united to its archbishop, live and mature in faith. Thus, when believers enter the cathedral, they do so for the communal celebration of the sacred mysteries, and in particular, for the celebration of the Eucharist.
Inside the cathedral is the cathedra or the chair of the archbishop. It is the symbol of the apostolic succession in the church. The cathedra or apostolic chair “qualifies” or distinguishes a cathedral from a parish church or a chapel.
Founded and originally constructed in 1581, the Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was damaged eight times but had been rebuilt, reconstructed and/or restored eight times too.
While the retrofitting and architectural restoration has been finished with the help of our generous donors, as well as our contractor – DM Consunji, our project manager – SP Castro, and our project team, the Cathedral’s renovations are not yet complete. The 13-bell carillon which was donated and installed a few years ago by Bert and Sylvia Lina, will be replaced in a few months – also by Bert and Sylvia – with the latest, state of the art carillon bells from the Netherlands. Likewise, our antiquated air conditioning system will have to be changed as soon as we find a kind donor.
We will now show how the 8th and latest time the Cathedral has been retrofitted and restored during the last two years. After the audio visual, the lights will be fully switched on and the Eucharistic Celebration will follow. After the Mass, our Foundation invites our faithful to a simple repast at the Plaza Roma in front of the Cathedral. Please use the meal stubs distributed through the various parishes and associations. We also invite our donors and guests to a reception at the nearby Arzobispado de Manila. Maraming salamat po.