Basilica to open 24 hours

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

THE Basilica del Sto. Niño will be open 24 hours for four days next week to accommodate the influx of devotees from other towns and provinces, said rector Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA.

At a press conference, Mejares said the schedule that will take effect from Jan. 17 to 20 will be implemented to accommodate devotees, especially those from nearby provinces.

He was referring to the long queue of devotees inside the church who want to venerate the centuries-old wooden Sto. Niño image enclosed in a bulletproof case at the left side of the altar.


The Augustinian community also decided to set aside the celebration of an environment mass, which was held at the Basilica for three consecutive years.

“Somehow, the sub-theme (of environmental conservation) would deviate from the theme,” said Mejares.

The theme for the 447th celebration of the feast of the Holy Infant Jesus or Sinulog is “Journeying together in faith with Sto. Niño,” which Mejares explained is attuned to the celebration of the Year of Faith as declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

“We, devotees of the Sto. Niño, need one another in our journey of faith with the guidance of the Sto. Niño,” he added.

The Basilica rector is also taking over the masses that used to be presided over by
the former Archdiocesan Commission on Worship chairman Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, which are the Misa de Traslacion and the re-enactment of the first baptism and mass.

Garcia has been on leave from his pastoral duties since July last year pending an investigation conducted by Vatican City.

Mejares acknowledged that he will be trying to fill a big shoe since Garcia is known as a charismatic prayer leader. He does not foresee any problem as the activities
remain the same through the years.


This year, the fluvial procession is set to start an hour earlier compared to last year’s, from 7am to 6 am.

Lawyer Pat Acabodillo, Sinulog Mandaue City celebration co-chairman, explained that the pilgrim image would be loaded onto the galleon right away to avoid delays caused by the surge of people who want to venerate the image, causing traffic congestion.

With the change in schedule, the re-enactment of the first baptism and mass will also be moved to 8 a.m.

Mejares announced a new activity, the ceremonial turnover of command between two Sto. Niño images.

As Capitan General as declared by the King of Spain, the Sto. Niño image from the Basilica would “turn over of guard” to the Sto. Niño image from San Nicolas parish that bears the designation of Teniente General, said Mejares.

“So somebody would take over his place (to guard the Basilica). This is just the context of why we wait for the Sto. Niño image from San Nicolas before the procession starts,” he added.

During the church activities, all the Sto. Niño images that will be used will be those under the upkeep of the Augustinian community. The church will not be using the statues owned by Msgr. Garcia.

The Ecce Homo or the sculpture of the suffering Christ will not be included in the motorcade that will transfer the Sto. Niño to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City and during the re-enactment of the first baptism and first mass.

“The focus (of the celebration) is on the Sto. Niño,” said Mejares.

A recording of prayers will be played during the grand foot procession on the eve of the feast day celebration, which would be accompanied live by a few lay ministers.

Unlike in the past when the recitation of the rosary was be done in several languages, this year prayers will only be in two languages, Visayan and English.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2013.

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