All set for ‘Walk with Jesus’, Fiesta Señor novena Masses
Thousands of pilgrims will gather at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño in downtown Cebu City starting today for daily novena Masses leading up to the Feast of the Child Jesus on January 17.
“Walk with Jesus,” a dawn procession from Fuente Osmeña to the centuries-old church at 4:30 a.m. today, will usher in the 451st Fiesta Señor celebration.
“Everything is set. Let’s be united in celebrating the feast of the Holy Child whose mercy and compassion can bring us joy and peace,” said Fr. Jonas Mejares, basilica rector.
The basilica complex is open 24 hours a day starting today until January 17 to accommodate the throngs of devotees.
At least 400 policemen and auxiliary group members will secure the procession, said Senior Supt. Marciano Batiancela, acting chief of the Cebu City Police Office.
All devotees are asked to use transparent bags to facilitate inspections.
Businessman Mario King and his wife Haydee will be installed as Hermano and Hermana Mayores, the main sponsors of the fiesta.
“We feel very unworthy of this honor. But we can’t say no to a humble and hearty invitation to be of service to the Sto. Nino and the Church,” Mario said.
As in previous years, devotees will spill over to the streets surrounding the basilica and the nearby Plaza Sugbo in front of Cebu City Hall during the novena Masses.
At least four large LED screens are mounted inside and outside the church grounds for people to view the Mass.
Twelve wooden kiosks have also been installed in the church yard and in the adjoining streets.
Lay ministers will be stationed there to distribute sacred hosts during Holy Communion so devotees they don’t have to crowd into the pilgrim center.
Red and yellow umbrellas are also available for devotees but these have to be returned after use.
Except on January 7 and 15, when there are dawn processions, 11 daily Masses are celebrated at the outdoor Pilgrim Center leading to the Feast Day of the Sto. Niño.
The schedules are 4 a.m. (except on January 8 and 16), 5:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.
The theme of this year’s Fiesta Señor is “Sto. Niño: Wellspring of Mercy and Compassion.
Fr. Mejares reminded politicians and poll candidates not to use the Fiesta to advance their personal interests.
“If they want to be part of the religious activities, they are most welcome. But please come here as devotees, not as politicians. This is a very solemn celebration so please don’t use it for politicking,” he said.
During the solemn procession of the Sto. Niño along the major thoroughfares of Cebu City on January 16, Mejares said Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district and former Rep. Eduardo
Gullas will be among the politicians who will be allowed near the carroza (Spanish for carriage which will bear the image of the Holy Child).
Mejares said they have been devotees of the child Jesus and have been joining the processions for several decades already, not just during election years.
“If they (politicians) are true devotees of the Holy Child, they won’t use the procession and other liturgical services as venue for campaigning,” Mejares said.
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