‘Pandemic cannot change faith to Snr. Sto. Niño’
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Amid threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), devotees flocked to the the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu on Friday, January 8, 2021, to attend the opening salvo of the 456th Fiesta Señor.
But unlike before, there was no overflowing crowd as social distancing, part of the church’s health protocols being implemented, was a must inside and around the Basilica.
There were no small children and elderlies in accordance with existing rules by the Cebu City Government that prohibit minors below 15 years old and senior citizens age 65 years old and above from going out of their houses.
Despite these changes, Augustinian friars from the Basilica took delight at the sight of the crowd inside and outside the church.
In his Homily, Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., rector of the Basilica, said the crowd present during on Friday showed that “not even the pandemic can stop faith.”
“There were really a lot of changes this year but our devotion to Snr. Sto. Niño did not… Not even the pandemic can stop our faith,” said Nohara in Cebuano.
Nohara also reminded devotees that they should be grateful for being able to celebrate this year’s Fiesta Señor since 2021 also marked the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity and the image of the Holy Child in Cebu.
Authorities in Cebu City estimated that around 3,000 individuals gathered inside and outside the Basilica for Fiesta Señor.
Councilor Dave Tumulak, who was appointed by the city government to oversee security for the week-long celebration, said there were 1,500 devotees inside the church and 1,500 more in adjacent streets.
Tumulak said the figures they recorded showed a 50-percent drop compared to the pre-COVID years, wherein an average of 6,000 attended the novena masses.
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