Cebu News

Fiesta Señor 2016 opening salvo: Walk draws 300T

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - An estimated 300,000 people joined the Walk with Jesus yesterday.

The crowd, four times over the 70,000 estimated last year, included those already waiting in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, those who joined the walk from the Fuente Osmeña circle to the basilica and those massing along the streets.

The procession started at 4:30 a.m. and ended when the carroza carrying the pilgrim image of the Señor Sto. Niño reached the basilica about an hour later. There the first Novena Mass for the Fiesta Señor was also celebrated.

The Pilgrims Center was so full many devotees had to contend themselves with watching the Novena Mass from large LED screens installed outside the center.

While the procession was ongoing yesterday, devotees prayed the rosary and sang hymns for the Holy Child while walking their way to the basilica.

Chief Inspector David Señor of the Police Community Relations Branch of the Cebu City Police Office, described the devotees who took part in the procession as “very well disciplined”.

“Pag-abot sa Sto Niño pormal kaayo, way dinumogay… karon hapsay kaayo,” he said.

The participants were so numerous that when the carroza carrying the image of the Holy Child arrived at the basilica people were still coming in from B. Rodriguez, P. Del Rosario, Sanciangko, and D. Jakosalem streets.

A lone theft incident marred what the police described as a “peaceful” activity. The report was recorded at Waterfront Police Station, said Señor.

Cebu City Traffic Office operations head Joy Tumulak attributed the bigger crowd of devotees who joined the walk to the good weather and the early arrival of International Eucharistic Congress participants and visitors.

Procession and Holy Mass

Participants began the walk past 4 a.m. at the Fuente Osmeña circle, proceeded along Osmeña Boulevard and finished the activity in the basilica.

Basilica Rector Fr. Jonas Mejares celebrated the Mass that followed. In his homily, Mejares urged the devotees to be merciful and compassionate like the Señor Sto. Niño, reflecting this year’s theme, “Señor Sto. Niño: Wellspring of Mercy and Compassion.”

“Kanindot sa kalibotan nga atong gipuy-an apan ato lamang gihugaw-hugawan sa di maayong binuhatan. Nahimong bati ang kalibotan tungod sa atong panagbikil ug panag-away… Apan ang Ginoo nagpabilin gihapong mahigugmaon ug mapasayluon… Gitudloan kita sa maayong pagtulun-an sa kaluoy, puangod ug pagpakabana,” he said.

Mejares, often called “the Singing Priest,” concluded his homily by singing “What a Wonderful World,” “Heal the World” and “The Lord’s Prayer” to the delight of the appreciative crowd.

Mejares also expressed joy over the reconstruction of the century-old belfry and the opening of the main door of the basilica after part of the church was destroyed by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in 2013.

The belfry reconstruction is nearing completion. Two of the six bells that were brought down by the quake are in now place while four others are expected to be installed before the January 23 turnover.

Mario King and Haydee King were also officially installed as this year’s Hermano and Hermana Mayores right after the first Novena Mass.  The process of choosing hermana or herman is usually done through nominations via personal or third party, but this year the Kings were picked by the executive committee.

Mario, who is a trustee of the Cebu Citizen’s Press Council, said they felt “unworthy of the honor.” But, he said they accepted the challenge and responsibility with a “grateful heart” to be of service to the Holy Child and to the entire church.


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