CEBU, Philippines — 300,000 Devotees gathered and walked together in the opening of the Fiesta Señor early in the morning of January 10, 2019.
This is the 454th celebration of the Feast of the Holy Child, Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu with the theme Santo Niño: “Guide of God’s Children to Humility and Service.”
This year’s Walk with Jesus marked history to every believer of Sñr. Sto. Niño de Cebu, most especially to the people of Guadalupe. This year’s Fiesta Señor was made more remarkable again as the image of the Holy Child was housed overnight at its mother’s home—Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
“Nalipay ko. This is already part of history, bisag kausa lang because we do not know next year if mahitabo pa ba ni og usab,” Rev. Fr. Romeo Desuya, the parish priest, confessed.
(I’m happy. This is already part of history, even if it’s just for once because we do not know next year if this will happen again.)
In this first-time event, the parish priest admitted that there was some discordance beyond their control; nonetheless, they were determined to reunite the Niño and its mother.
A send-off mass was celebrated as early as 1:45 at dawn before the pilgrim image of the Holy Child made its way to the Fuente Osmeña Circle for the Walk with Jesus.
During the homily of the send-off mass, the message shed some light on matters that could mean so much to the youth which echoes the theme of this year’s feast.
Holiness, Humility, and Hope (3H)—these were highlighted by Rev Fr. Jeoryll Chan in his homily, pointing out on how the youth could respond to today’s challenge by following the values embodied by the Holy Child.
In relation to the role of the Blessed Mary to the Holy Child, Fr. Chan also emphasized the importance of the mother in accompanying the youth towards achieving the 3H virtues.
Fiesta Señor 2019 focuses on today’s younger generation in correlation as well for the “Year of the Youth”.
“Blessed kaayo mi mga miduaw gyud ang Señor Santo Niño diri. Nanghinaot og nag-ampo pod kami nga unta iya ming abagan sa umaabot mga National Youth Day karong tuiga,” said Metchelle Apura, one of the altar servers in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish who joined during the penitential walk.
(We are so blessed that the Señor Santo Niño visited here. We also hope and pray that He will help us in the upcoming National Youth Day this year.)
Apura said that the event would be a great key to influence the young people to partake in the upcoming National Youth Day which will be participated by around 15,000 delegates and will take place on April 23-28, 2019 wherein Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish will serve as one of the hosts.
The image of the Holy Child reached Fuente Osmeña just in time for the Walk with Jesus. The pilgrim image was warmly welcomed by the devotees in the Pilgrim Center at around 5 o’clock in the morning as the Gozos of Sto. Niño de Cebu was sung.
The Eucharistic celebration followed right after and was presided by Rev. Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., OSA, rector of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (BMSN).
In his homily, he spoke about the letter of St. John: If anyone says “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar.
“We have a lot of reasons or excuses why our love to one another is not complete. We cannot deny it and that is part of our ego,” he said.
Fr. Nohara reminded us that attending the procession is our way of expressing our love to Señor Sto. Niño but should not end there as we are to embody the value of humility and service to others like Him.
After the homily, the installation of the new Hermano and Hermana Mayor for this year’s Fiesta took place.
The selection of Hermana and Hermano Mayor is part of the yearly tradition of the church during the fiesta celebration of Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu.
The Augustinian friars of Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu proclaimed the new Hermano and Hermana Mayor for the 454th Feast of Sto. Niño.
According to Rev. Fr. Nohara, the process of choosing the Hermano and Hermana Mayor is through deliberate selection.
“The Hermano and Hermana should be, of course, a devotee to Señor Santo Niño, their family has no bad record, and their presence to the church [is felt and/or constant],” Fr. Nohara said.
The chosen Hermano and Hermana Mayor for this year is Atty. Paul Yabao and his wife, Dioscora Yabao.
After the mass, a traditional Sinulog dance was offered by Rev. Fr. Nohara followed by the Hermano and Hermana 2018 and 2019—Mark Joel Go and his mother, Rosalina Go, and Atty. Paul Yabao and his wife, Dioscora Yabao, respectively—and all the Augustinian friars and guest priests. | Kaiser Jan Fuentes and Melissa Arbuis, CNU Student Volunteers with Anamarie Nanol and Carmelle Ferrater, USJ-R Communication Interns