Santo Niño Pilgrim Center
Originally a brainchild of rev. Fr. Apolinario Mejorada, OSA, the then Basilica Rector, in 1989, the Santo Niño Pilgrim Center is a structure that responds to the growing need for space of the increasing number of pilgrims and devotees of Santo Niño. This huge project, both structurally and financially, was symbolically begun on April 29, 1990. But due to insufficient funds, it was re-launched on April 27, 1991. Construction followed on June 24, 1991. As said above, the edifice was conceptualized for the needs of the pilgrims and devotees and as an extension of the Basilica.
Before the construction, the open area was called Santo Niño plaza or templete, where there is a fountain at the center and surrounded by a stage, clinic, basketball court, and vendors’ stalls. The fountain was later transferred to the inner garden of the convent. Meanwhile, the basketball court remained until 2005, when it was converted to be a candle area.
It was only in the Ordinary Provincial Chapter held in April 1992 that the Provincialate community will be housed in the Pilgrim Center. Thus, the upper stories of the Pilgrim Center would be given for the Provincialate Community. Meanwhile, on February 26, 1992, the General Curia had already approved the transfer of the Provincialate, and it was declared as a religious residence that same day. In early February 1992, further furnishing of the structure was finished and ready to receive the friars of the Provincialate. It was blessed on April 1, 1993.
With Fr. Bernardino Ricafrente, OSA as the Prior Provincial that time were the members of the Provincialate community when it was transferred to its present location: Rev. Fr. Medardo Durmiendo, OSA as Provincial Treasurer and Rev. Fr. Edgar Polotan, OSA as Provincial Secretary. The transfer of the Provincialate community to the Pilgrim Center has paved the way for itself to function normally as what had been the dream of the previous Provincial, Fr. Eusebio Berdon, OSA, who, on behalf of his community, earnestly wished in his report saying: “... we strongly recommend the full functioning of the Provincialate community, where, at least, the Prior Provincial and the Provincial Treasurer and Secretary, live together.” Moreover, the Provincial Offices which would house the Offices of the Prior Provincial, Provincial Treasurer and of the Provincial Commissions, was subsequently blessed on August 20, 1993 at the same building of the Pilgrim Center. The said Offices is located on the second level of the Pilgrim Center and remains as of this writing as the seat of the offices of the Province.
Other important offices and areas in the Pilgrim Center are the BMSN Museum (1995), Mass Media Center (2016), and the function room Aula Magna for the use of both the Basilica and Provincialate communities' activities. In 2017, two sets of restrooms were added at the left and right wing of the elevated benches of the Pilgrim Center. Another structural addition was constructed on both sides of the pilgrim center for the Command Center and the Office of the Lectors and Cantors Ministry in 2018.
The Santo Niño Pilgrim Center has been another “landmark” for Santo Niño with its iconic facade mimicking the retablo mayor inside the church. In its plaza or square many sinug dances, prayers and of course celebrations of outdoor Holy Masses took place all through out the year to honor the Child Jesus, Sñr. Santo Niño.