Detainees honor the Holy Child
Lai (not her real name) celebrated her 39th birthday inside the women’s dormitory of the Cebu City Jail on Tuesday.
No one from among her relatives came to visit her.
Lai was teary-eyed when she saw her most awaited visitor, the image of the Sto. Nino.
“I feel overwhelmed and thankful for the Sto. Niño’s visit. I did not mind if family members did not come to visit because I had someone more important than my family who came for a visit,” Lai said in Cebuano.
Lai and 576 other female detainees were in tears while they watched the image of the Holy Child enter the jail facility past 3 p.m.
They also offered a Sinulog dance for their visitor.
“Nangandam gyud mi tanan diri sa Cebu City jail female dormitory sa pagbisita niya. Kada gabii gyud mi nag practice sa among sayaw halad ngadto sa Señor uban sa among mga pangaliya nga unta makauli nami sa among mga pamilya,” said Lai who has been detained for trafficking charges for almost three years now.
Lai said she continues to hope that she will be released from detention soon to reunite with her family.
“I have been praying to the Sto. Niño that I be released from jail before my mother’s birthday in March,” she added.
The image of the Sto. Niño is brought out of basilica’s pilgrim center each year to visit inmates of the Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC) and the Cebu City Jail, shortly before the actual start of the nine-day novena Mass.
Jail Chief Inspector Elsie Eireen Alcomendras, head of the female dormitory, said it was already the image’s sixth visit to their facility.
“This is the six year of the visit of the holy image and we have prepared so much for this event. The inmates here are looking forward to this day and we are grateful that we are continuously being visited and we hope this will continue in the coming years,” Alcomendras said.
The Sto. Niño left the basilica at 1 p.m. and traveled in a motorcade to Barangay Kalunasan where the two facilities are located. It made its first stop at the OSCC for a Mass and short vigil.
Uniformed jail guards then carried that image enclosed in a glass case to the nearby female dormitory of the Cebu City Jail.
While in tears, female inmates holding small Sto. Niño images greeted the Holy Child during its arrival past 3 p.m.
The Sto. Niño stayed at the female dormitory for three hours before it was transferred to the male dormitory located on the other side of the city jail for a third Mass and an overnight vigil. The image will be returned to the basilica at 10 a.m. today.
In his homily at the OSCC, basilica rector Pacifico Noraha Jr. asked minor offenders undergoing rehabilitation at the facility to prepare for the time when they will be allowed to go back to their families.
OSCC now has 114 residents, said Metante.
After the Mass, around 50 minors performed the traditional Sinulog dance to honor the Sto. Niño.
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