Walk draws 120T-A A +A
Saturday, January 19, 2013
DEVOTEES of the Sto. Niño occupied half of Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City before daylight yesterday to take part in a penitential foot procession, as the weekend of Cebu’s biggest religious and cultural event started.
For more than five hours in the morning, devotees suspended regular activities to join the Walk with Mary, hear mass at the Basilica, then witness the Traslacion motorcade from Cebu to Mandaue City.
Police estimated some 120,000 people walked from Fuente Osmeña to the Basilica.
Another 80,000 lined up along the streets of Mandaue for the transfer of the images of Sto. Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe to the National Shrine of St. Joseph.
“The crowd converged peacefully,” said officer-in-charge Mariano Natuel Jr. of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).
The largest crowds of the annual fiesta are usually seen during the solemn procession on Saturday, the pontifical mass on Sunday morning and along the route of the grand parade, also on Sunday.
It took only 60 police personnel in Cebu City to watch over the dawn procession. They were up and in place around 3 a.m.
Prayers and songs for the Virgin Mary broke the silence of the chilly, windy morning, accompanied by the sound of thousands of feet shuffling.
For devotees like the Celerio family, processions like the Walk with Mary are the point of the celebration.
Marilyn Celerio-Berosuelo told Sun.Star Cebu they intend to attend all the religious activities for the feast day on Sunday, which they have been doing for years.
She said it was her 91-year-old mother, Juanita Celerio, that inspired them to do this as a form of thanksgiving and to pray for good health and success for family members.
By 3:30 a.m., they had reached Fuente Osmeña, the assembly area for the traditional procession, from their home on Martirez St.
A group of devotees of St. Therese of the Child Jesus also brought along a small, well-lit carroza carrying an image of the saint, while another group placed an image of Birhen sa Simala on top of a van bedecked with flowers.
The other participants carried with them candles as well as Sto. Niño images of various kinds and sizes.
A delegation from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, led by parish priest Msgr. Jose Montencillo, was present to bring the pilgrim image to the Basilica del Sto. Niño as part of preparations for the Misa de Traslacion.
The Misa de Traslacion was presided by Fr. Roman Cañon, OSA who explained that the celebration would lead to a motorcade where the statues of Sto. Niño and the Lady of Guadalupe would be brought to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City.
The mass involves the “reunion” of the Sagrada Familia or Holy Family in Mandaue City.
After an overnight stay, the images of the Sto. Niño and the Blessed Virgin would be brought back to the Basilica del Sto. Niño through a fluvial procession.
Cañon acknowledged that it was his first time to preside over the traditional mass. He focused his homily on the significance of the Gospel about a paralytic who was assisted by his friends to get near Jesus Christ, in order to be healed.
“This is a unique way of answering God’s call. This is the perfect example of our journey of faith; it was the faith of the paralytic’s friends that moved God to heal him,” said Cañon.
“In our journey of life, let us help our brethren to return to God,” he added.
The Misa de Traslacion, for many years, was presided by the former Archdiocesan Commission on Worship chairman Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, who is on leave from his duties.
Cañon also offered a short prayer for the special intentions of Msgr. Garcia during the hour-long mass.
The images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Sto. Niño were placed on vehicles after the mass for the motorcade, led by Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, to Mandaue City.
A red-carpet welcome, with Mayor Jonas Cortes, waited in the boundary between the two cities in Subangdaku.
The fluvial procession from Ouano wharf today was scheduled to start at 6 a.m., followed by the reenactment of the first baptism and first mass at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
The 5.7-kilometer procession will start at 1:30 p.m. after the turnover of the guards between the Basilica’s Sto. Niño, the Kapitan Heneral, and the image from San Nicolas or the Teniente Heneral.
Meanwhile, local government units were encouraged to provide garbage bins during the Sinulog celebrations, said Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo.
Uncollected and unsegregated waste left on the streets or in open lots, which find their way into and choke our rivers and esteros, endanger the lives of communities during heavy rains.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 19, 2013.