Pope to go around Luneta to greet crowds
MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos who want the best spots for Pope Francis' Mass on January 18 won't be allowed to camp overnight at Rizal Park.
But they will have a chance to get close to the Argentine pontiff when he goes around to greet the crowds before the culminating activity of his 5-day apostolic and state visit to the Philippines.
In a press briefing on Monday, January 5, members of the papal visit committee said Rizal Park will only be open to the public from 6 am to 1 pm on January 18, upon the security recommendations of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The mass is scheduled to start at 3:30 pm.
But those who end up on the outskirts of the park may still have a chance to meet the Pope, as he goes around the area to greet and bless the crowds, said Fr Rufino Sescon Jr, executive secretary of the papal visit committee.
"Even in Rome that is done before the Mass, the Pope goes around to greet the people. He wants to meet everyone and bless everyone, because that will be the only chance for him [to do so]," Sescon said.
To ensure the Pope's safety, 1.2-meter long concrete barriers will be lined up along the papal route.
He is expected to pass Kalaw, Orosa and Burgos streets and Roxas Blvd and then enter South Road going to the Quirino Grandstand.
Around 1.2 million people are expected to crowd Rizal Park, but the number could swell up to 5 million, according to Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
To allow those far from the Pope to still be part of the mass, 18 giant LED screens will be set up around the park.
Organizers said 20 first aid stations and 400 portalets will be set up in areas around the park.
20 ambulances with medical teams will also be ready to respond to emergencies, along with 120 volunteers providing additional support.
Apostle's Creed in Tagalog
For the concluding Mass, 2,500 priests are set to concelebrate with Pope Francis.
A special section of the park will be allocated for 500 persons with disabilities, 500 from the urban poor sector, and 500 for the religious sector.
While the Mass will be said in English, the Apostle's Creed to be led by the Pope will be recited in Tagalog.
Meanwhile, the intercession will be prayed in different dialects, such as Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Waray, Cebuano, and Bikolano. Responses will be made in English and Tagalog.
5,000 communion distributors will be deployed around the park's 20 communion chapels. White communion umbrellas bearing the logo of the Holy Father will mark the locations.
5,000 ushers will also be tapped to guide the public.
The songs to be used in the Mass, composed by Fr Manoling Francisco, are multilingual and are a fusion of Western music with Filipino indigenous rhythm, according to Fr Carmelo Arada Jr of the Service Committee on Liturgy.
"The aim is to create a national consciousness… [as well as] to foster a sense of community with the universal Church," Arada added.
Candles will be lighted at the conclusion of the mass, as the crowd sings "Tell The World of His Love."
Arada also asked the public to bring images of the Sto Niño for the Mass, as the event falls on the Feast of the Sto Niño.
Before the Mass, devotees from the Archdiocese of Cebu will lead the crowd in the Sinulog rhythm and dance. – Rappler.com