Sto. Niño devotees urged to deepen spirituality
Deepen your spirituality.
This was the advice of the Augustinian fathers of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in Cebu City to devotees as the 453rd Fiesta Señor will start on Thursday, January 11.
In a press conference on Monday, Fr. Noel Cogasa, OSA, who is in charge of the liturgical celebrations in the basilica, said it is pointless to join the fluvial and foot processions as well as other religious activities if the intention is just to chitchat with other people or to merely go sightseeing.
“What is then the meaning of what we are doing if we just join the activities and do not pray? The Fiesta Señor is not about taking a breather from our usual routine, or to have a family reunion. The essence of the celebration is prayer, and so we must not neglect the religious aspect,” he said.
The Fiesta Senor 2018 officially starts with the annual “Walk with Jesus”, a penitential foot procession from Fuente Osmeña to the basilica at 4 a.m. on Thursday.
This year’s celebration carries the theme “Sto. Niño: Inspiration of Renewed Disciples for the New Evangelization ”which is patterned to the pastoral thrust of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
Fr. Pacifico “Jun” Nohara Jr., OSA, rector of the basilica, appealed to the devotees to follow the instructions and signages, and to keep the celebration solemn.
“Please obey the entrance and exit signs, and avoid bringing jewelry and other expensive items (which may entice thieves),” he said.
Signages, communion kiosks, large LED screens, and several television monitors were mounted inside the basilica complex and the adjoining streets for people who may not be able to enter the churchyard.
At least a million devotees are expected to troop to the basilica in downtown Cebu City and participate in the different activities in honor of the Sto. Niño
Except on January 11 and 19 when there are dawn processions, 11 Masses will be held at the outdoor Pilgrim Center every day leading to the feast of the Sto. Nino.
The basilica complex will be open to the public for 24 hours from January 11 to 21 although the church is off limits to people every 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. to allow the janitors to clean the basilica.
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.
For the past years, the Augustinian fathers have repeatedly appealed to devotees of the Child Jesus to stop releasing balloons in the air, saying it is harmful to the environmental and had caused several power interruptions.
The plea fell on deaf ears.
“Now, we have given the go signals 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.
For several years, the release of balloons in the air during the feast of the Sto. Niño has been a popular gesture of lifting prayers to heaven.
The Augustinian fathers, the caretakers of the basilica and the image of the child Jesus, want the practice to stop, teaching devotees the proper way of expressing their faith.
For the first time in 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, 2018.
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 respond 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 p.m. Mass.
Afterwhich, the images will be brought in a motorcade to the Naval Forces Central Wharf in Barangay Looc for the start of the fluvial procession along the Mactan Channel.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said the Oponganons were very happy upon learning that the city will be included in the traslacion.
“This is first time in history, and we are very thankful,” he said.
Fr. Bernard Corpuz, rector of the Nuestra Señora de Regla National Shrine, said his parishioners were teary-eyed when told that the Sto. Niño will drop by the church.
“The long wait is over,” he said.
After the fluvial procession, a reenactment of the first Mass, baptism, and wedding will be done at the basilica’s Pilgrim Center to be followed the grand procession of the Sto. Niño image along the main streets of Cebu City in the afternoon.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will preside over the 6 a.m. Pontifical Mass at the basilica on January 21, the feast of the Sto. Niño.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, Sinulog executive committee chairman, said the police have yet to determine whether or not to shut down mobile phone signals during the big activities in line of the feast of the Sto. Niño.
“We just have to prepare for whatever eventualities. It will be all up to the police to recommend what is good for the Sinulog.
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