Fiesta Señor Masses to be streamed online
CEBU, Philippines — The Augustinian fathers, the custodians of the highly-revered miraculous image of Sr. Santo Niño, see the need to expand their platform, both physical and digital, to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims and devotees joining the Fiesta Señor.
Father Ric Anthony Reyes, member of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, said organizers plan to use the roads and available spaces outside the basilica complex for the Mass attendees.
He said chairs will be lined up outside while audible sound systems will be mounted to couple the LED screens so that the crowd who cannot enter the packed compound can still participate with the hourly novena Masses.
The Fiesta Señor, celebrated every third Sunday of January, attracts millions of Catholic faithful across the globe to pay homage to the country’s oldest religious relic, which is believed to heal and grant miracles.
As what has been customarily made yearly, nine-day novena Masses are slated leading to the feast that usually draws people because of the belief that completing the nine days would grant their wishes.
Fr. Reyes said that in anticipation of a huge crowd, the religious have coordinated closely with the city police force to augment their existing personnel and heighten security.
He said there will be stricter policies, particularly at the entry and exit points of the basilica, making sure that no person with prohibited or dangerous objects could enter.
He said during the entire period of the weeklong celebration, police personnel will be doubled and will be stationed strategically within the premises. Some, he added, will also be designated at the entry points to go through every visitor to check their bags.
While many travel to visit the minor basilica at downtown Cebu City, the Augustinian friars also consider those that might miss the event because of their work or of their health condition.
With the favorable feedback from social media users, Fr. Reyes said the organizers also plan to livestream the significant Masses during the weeklong celebration so that people far from Cebu City, and even those abroad, can take part of the event.
Recently, the religious community has been livestreaming the novena Masses on Friday’s and the Sunday Masses to reach out to the netizens propagating more of the devotion to the Child Jesus in the digital world.
The Augustinian fathers also established its official website run by young volunteers that provide information to make one know more of the Santo Niño.
In the website and the official Facebook page of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, series of video segments dubbed “Tara na sa Basilica” has been a venue for releasing documentaries weekly or every Friday’s that vary from the religious, historical, and spiritual aspects.
Fr. Reyes said these initiatives are aimed to educate and evangelize netizens about the devotion to the Santo Niño and its importance.
The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City has been the sanctuary of the miraculous wooden image, with the local Augustinians tasked as its custodians.
The image’s arrival on the shores of Cebu in 1521 and its rediscovery years after have been a significant symbol of the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines that continue to flourish at present.
History has it that the wooden image was the baptismal gift of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Humani (Queen Juana), wife of Rajah Humabon, when they were converted to Catholics, together with their subjects. —/JMD (FREEMAN)