ORGANIZERS of the 453rd Fiesta Señor celebration urged devotees to deepen their spirituality and focus on the religious aspect of the event.
In a press conference yesterday, officials of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño asked devotees to focus to not just be spectators of the event but be active in it spiritually.
As this year’s Fiesta Señor kicks off on Thursday, organizers put up several security measures to ensure a peaceful celebration without traffic spoiling the religious activities.
Fr. Noel Cogasa, in-charge of the liturgical celebrations of this year’s fiesta, said that during all major processions, such as the Walk with Mary, Walk with Jesus and the Solemn Procession, he encouraged devotees to pray the Holy Rosary.
Cogasa said that instead of using the processions to just mingle, he urged devotees to devote their time in prayer.
Cogasa said that fiesta organizers will place sound systems along the procession route to encourage devotees to join in prayer.
During the fluvial procession, priests will no longer be allowed to say mass on the boats. Cogasa said the order was made by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma during a consultation meeting with the fiesta organizers.
Rather than saying mass, Cogasa encouraged devotees attending the fluvial process to either pray the rosary, pray the novenas for the Mother of Perpetual Help and the Chaplet of the Santo Niño.
Included in the changes in the religious aspects of this year’s fiesta are the separation of the reenactment of the First Mass and Baptism and the Holy Mass after the fluvial procession.
Separating the reenactment from the mass, Cogasa said, ensures that the Eucharistic celebration after the fluvial procession will be solemn.
Another new feature in this year’s fiesta is the total ban of balloons inside the Basilica.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon, in-charge of the fiesta’s peace and order committee, said they’ve instructed their security guards to prevent balloon sellers from entering the Basilica.
He also instructed security guards to confiscate balloons from devotees entering the Basilica.
Luzon said that aside from environmental considerations, the practice of releasing balloons in the air during the religious activities is not a proper way to show devotion to the Santo Niño.
This year’s fiesta will also feature a longer Traslacion route with the inclusion of Lapu-Lapu City.
The inclusion of Lapu-Lapu City was due to a clamor from devotees living there to include the city the places to be visited by the image of the Santo Niño.
From the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, the Santo Niño image will be brought to the Virgin of the Rule Parish in Lapu-Lapu City before it will be transported to the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) base for the fluvial procession.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza told reporters that she and her constituents are excited to welcome the holy image in their streets.
Fr. Bernard Corpuz, the parish priest of the Virgin of the Rule Parish, said his parishioners are blessed to be given such an opportunity.
“The long wait is over,” Corpuz told reporters yesterday.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also reported that at least 10 vessels have registered for the fluvial procession.
Commander Jerome Cayabyab, PCG Cebu station chief, said they are giving small and big motorbanca owners until Jan. 17 to register for the fluvial procession.
Fr. Pacifico “Jun” Nohara, Jr, Basilica rector and overall chairman of this year’s fiesta committee, said that this year, the fiesta’s theme will be about the importance of vocation.
This in relation to the pastoral thrust of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, which focuses on the clergy and the religious. (JKV)