95 percent ready for Fiesta Señor 2018
The Augustinian fathers of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño are on the final stretch of preparations for the Fiesta Señor 2018 which is expected to draw at least a million people from different parts of the country.
“We’re 95 percent ready. Almost everything is in place. We only need some refinements,” said Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA, the secretary of the 2018 Fiesta Señor Executive Committee, in a press conference on Thursday.
The Augustinians await the confirmation of some priests and bishops who were invited to celebrate Masses during the novena and feast of the Sto. Niño.
Lawyer Paul Yabao, overall Fiesta Señor consultant, said they were also informed about the possibility that President Rodrigo Duterte will drop by the basilica to visit the image of the child Jesus on Jan. 21.
“He may come to the basilica after giving a speech at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) during the Sinulog although we have not received any formal communication yet,” he said.
The Fiesta Señor 2018 officially starts on January 11 with the annual “Walk with Jesus”, a penitential foot procession from Fuente Osmeña to the basilica at 4 a.m.
Next year’s celebration carries the theme “Sto. Niño: Inspiration of Renewed Disciples for New Evangelization.”
In solidarity with war and typhoon victims, the Augustinian fathers will not have any fireworks display on the eve of the Fiesta Señor in January 2018 for a more somber feast.
“We decided to instead give the money for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, for victims of the different typhoons, and for the renovation of a church in Villaba, Leyte,” said Fr. Noel Cogasa, OSA, who is in charge of the liturgical celebrations in the basilica.
In previous years, the basilica spent around P100,000 for the pyrotechnics display after the one-hour traditional Sinulog dance at the church’s Pilgrim Center.
The basilica already sent P300,000 in donations for victims of the Marawi siege last August but found the need to add some more to help victims of the war.
Although there will be no fireworks display on January 20, the usual traditional Sinulog will proceed after the solemn procession of the Sto. Niño, and the 6 p.m. Pontifical Mass to be presided over by Palo Archbishop John Du.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, OSA, head of the Fiesta Señor 2018 peace and order committee, said they will also strictly enforce a total ban on balloons at the church’s courtyard.
Since 2012, the Augustinian fathers have repeatedly appealed to devotees of the Child Jesus to stop releasing balloons in the air, as it is harmful to the environment. Also, some brownouts occurred when power transformers near the basilica exploded after they were hit by flying balloons.
But the plea fell on deaf ears as many still believe that the gesture is a way of lifting prayers and petitions to heaven.
“Now, we have given the go signal for the security guards to confiscate all balloons at the entrance gates of the basilica,” Luzon said.
Balloon vendors, he said, are not allowed inside the basilica.
Devotees are also discouraged from using balloons during the foot and fluvial processions.
The Augustinian fathers, the caretakers of the basilica and the image of the Child Jesus, want the practice to stop, by teaching devotees the proper way of expressing their faith.
“We want to remind people that the Fiesta Señor is not just about balloons or revelries. We also have to consider the effects of whatever we do on others and the environment,” Luzon explained.
Birhen sa Regla
For the first time in Sinulog history, the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe will drop by the Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City shortly before the start of the fluvial procession on January 20.
The Augustinian fathers have decided to extend the annual traslacion from Mandaue City to the adjacent island of Mactan, particularly in Lapu-Lapu City, in response to numerous requests from Oponganons who want to be visited by the images during the festivities.
As in previous years, the traslacion or ritual transfer of the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe will start after the 5:30 a.m. Mass on January 19, Friday, from the basilica to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City.
The motorcade will go down D. Jakosalem Street, turn right to General Maxilom Avenue, left to Gorordo Avenue, right to Archbishop Reyes Avenue, straight to Gov. M. Cuenco Avenue, and right again to A.S. Fortuna Street.
Mandauehanons will welcome the images at the boundary of the cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Banilad.
The motorcade will pass A. del Rosario St., and S.B. Cabahug Street before reaching the shrine in Mandaue City where the two images will stay for an overnight vigil.
At 2 a.m. on Saturday, January 20, a send off Mass will be celebrated at the National Shrine of St. Joseph. But unlike previous years, there will be no more foot procession that will bring the images of the Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Ouano Wharf.
Instead, the images will be transported in a motorcade to the Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City for the 4 a.m. Mass.
The images will then be brought in a motorcade to the Captain Veloso Pier in Barangay Looc for the start of the fluvial procession along Mactan Channel.
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