Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma poured sacred oil on a bare altar table, burned incense and added a piece of the bone of St. Therese of the Child Jesus as a treasure of the newest church dedicated to St. Pedro Calungsod.
Palma led the consecration rites of the St. Pedro Calungsod Chapel at the SM Seaside City which was opened to the public yesterday.
“This chapel is a sign of God’s love. It is a sign that God is present in our midst. This chapel will become a source of grace,” said Palma in his homily.
“May this Church be a refuge to those who find life burdensome and for those who want to celebrate their joys and dreams. Here we find strength through the Eucharist.”
The bone fragment of St. Therese which will remain in a reliquary of the chapel is considered a first class relic.
Palma said he was happy that the retail conglomerate SM built a chapel first before other infrastructures in its portion of the South Road Properties.
When the congregation sang the litany of saints, the name of St. Calungsod was included. His official image was placed near the altar.
Also present during the consecration of the chapel were Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, around 20 bishops and 25 priests, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and Rep. Tomas Osmena of Cebu City’s south district.
The new chapel is being donated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sy Sr. to the Archdiocese of Cebu.
In an interview, New York-based architect Carlos Arnaiz said the chapel was built at a cost of at least P160 million.
Most of the amount, he said, was spent in compacting the soil in the reclamation area.
“I had to research. We were looking for a chapel that represents the diversity of Cebu. We wanted a church that has a sense of openness and connection,” Arnaiz told reporters.
He said the modern design of the chapel, whose most striking feature is the construction of 100 walls of different heights, does not yet have distinctive visual themes of St. Calungsod yet since the project was orginally intended as a church for Mary, the mother of God.
Fr. Brian Brigoli, in an earlier interview, said the Archdiocese of Cebu had suggested dedicating the chapel to Calungsod instead.
The national thanksgiving celebration of the new saint is being held just across the street in a 27-hectare lot owned by the Cebu city government.
SM handled the site development of the 27-hectare venue as its contribution for the historic event.
The main altar has three sacred images. On the right is the life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary dressed in white. On the opposite side is St. Joseph, her husband and the patron of the universal Church.
At the center of the altar is the image of the crucified Jesus Christ.
The air-conditioned chapel has a capacity of 800 individuals. Msgr. Vicente Tupas will be the chapel’s first rector. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter