Due to increasing crowd, Basilica cancels public Novena Masses

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | January 11,2021 - 07:20 PM
This is the last public Novena Mass for this Fiesta Señor after the Augustinian friars decided to cancel starting January 12 the physical Masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño due to the increasing crowd and health safety concerns. | CDN Digital - Morexette Marie B. Erram

This is the last public Novena Mass for this Fiesta Señor after the Augustinian friars decided to cancel starting January 12 the physical Masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño due to the increasing crowd and health safety concerns. | CDN Digital – Morexette Marie B. Erram

CEBU CITY, Philippines — It is better late than never. 

Augustinian priests from the Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño de Cebu on Monday, January 11, 2021 announced that they would be cancelling the public Novena Masses of the Fiesta Señor 2021 due to health concerns.

As a result, organizers will be conducting the remaining Masses virtually starting Tuesday, January 12, 2021. 

Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, spokesperson of the Basilica, said the decision was made after organizers of the week-long celebration observed an increase in the influx of attendees. 

Read: Physical novena masses for Fiesta Señor 2021 cancelled

“We noticed there has been a surge of attendees as the days progress. While it’s saddening and heartbreaking, we cannot avoid the possibility of an increase in the crowd in the future Novena Masses,” said Reyes in a mix of Cebuano and English. 

The announcement from the Basilica came on the fourth day of the Fiesta Señor 2021. 

Look: Official statement of the Augustinian friars on the cancellation of the public Novena Masses

Reyes also said that they would not hold public Masses this January 17, 2021 or during the culmination of the Fiesta Señor day.

Basilica open to devotees

However, the friars said the Basilica compound would remain open for devotees who would want to visit.

“The Basilica compound will remain open, but we will be holding the Novena Mass in an area off limits to the public,” said Reyes.

He added that schedules of the Masses, on the other hand, would be sustained. 

With all public Masses for the Fiesta Señor cancelled, roads are also expected to be reopened, chairs, LED screens and speakers placed outside the church will be removed.

As to the conduct of Hubo Mass, which is expected this January 22, Reyes said the Basilica would issue further updates. 

24K attendees on 1st day

Despite threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), thousands of devotees flocked to the Basilica to attend the Novena Masses for the Fiesta Señor this year. 

On its first day, last January 8, church administrators recorded a total of 24,000 attendees from the first up to the last Mass. 

The Basilica, for the Fiesta Señor this year, imposed a limit to the number of devotees for public Masses in compliance with minimum health standards. 

A maximum of 1,500 individuals will be allowed in every Mass, and minors below 15 years old and seniors, whose ages are 65 years old and above are prohibited entry. 

The Cebu City government’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), meanwhile, welcomed the decision of the church to do away with physical Masses.

“In so far as city government and EOC and, of course, the police are concerned, we’re doing everything to make this occasion safe and secure,” said EOC chief and Councilor Joel Garganera. 

“Gathering of this magnitude, it’s always a potential risk,” he added.

New COVID-19 cases

Cebu City also recently experienced an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases. 

From January 1 to January 10, a total of 304 new infected patients were logged from Cebu City. 

But according to Garganera, data from EOC showed that only four of these recently confirmed patients had travel history to churches.

“One of them attended Misa de Gallo which was in last December. The other three said they attended Masses but not necessarily from Misa de Gallo,” he noted.

A separate report from the EOC showed that from December 29 to January 9, social gatherings remained as the most prevalent source of new COVID-19 cases in Cebu City./dbs

Subscribe to our regional newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

TAGS: Augustinian friars, Basilica, cancel, Fiesta Señor, Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, Novena Masses, surge of attendees

Subscribe to our regional newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.