Visita Iglesia-A A +A
Saturday, April 7, 2012
OUR Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday brought us to the churches in Naga, Minglanilla and Cebu City. I don’t know how many of the faithful were up and about that evening in various churches in Metro Cebu and the rest of the province. Judging from the crowd that we saw our visit of five churches, it must have been in the tens of thousands.
That was the first time I went inside the St. Francis of Assisi church in the poblacion of Naga City and the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary church in Inayagan in the same city. It was also the first time we (I was with my wife Edizza and son Khan-khan) found out that there are two Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary churches in Naga, the other one being in nearby Barangay Tuyan.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Minglanilla was, as expected, crowded with people. We arrived there an hour after the procession and the faithful were still lingering in the church grounds. The town is the site of the famous Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival, thus the fiesta atmosphere three nights before the main celebration.
The other church that we visited, that of the Virgen de la Consolacion still in Minglanilla town, is familiar to us, being the site of many affairs that we attended in recent years, including Khan-khan’s graduation in pre-school. The church is not that big and has a limited ground area but was visited by a good number of people.
The Sto. Tomas de Villanueva church in Pardo can be considered the turf of my wife, who is from Inayawan, Cebu City. The front side of the church is currently undergoing a facelift, but that didn’t deter visitors from doing their thing there, even if two plaques of the Stations of the Cross were missing. Like the Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Minglanilla, the Pardo church was also crowded with people.
A Visita Iglesia is physically tiresome but is fulfilling in the aspect of strengthening our religiosity. It’s a sacrifice that many of us voluntarily go through. But in the information age, one already has a choice of using the feet or relying on your fingers to do the visita. This after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) set up a Visita Iglesia site in the Internet.
This CBCP web site offering is mainly intended for Filipinos working abroad but who could not return to the Philippines during the Holy Week or those who could not physically make the visita. And it does look like this kind of activity is gaining more and more followers.
A report by GMA news online (gmanetwork.com) said that the number of visitors to the Visita Iglesia site of the CBCP already breached 200,000 as of 5 a.m. yesterday, and it is still growing. On the very same day that we (my wife, son and I) did the visita physically, some 20,000 people also did it online. On that day alone.
Before Maundy Thursday, the site already listed 175,000 visitors. Note that last year, the 100,000 visitors mark was not breached until Good Friday. Which just shows the increasing popularity of CBCP’s Visita Iglesia site and which may signal a gradual shift in the practice of this age-old Holy Week tradition for Filipino Catholics.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 08, 2012.