THEY lined the streets in colorful garb, mostly long, flowing robes and some with corresponding headgear and other accessories, others in clothing reminiscent of centuries past from countries across the globe.
People who watched the Parade of Saints in Dumaguete City over the weekend were immediately impressed, as students were game enough to brace the afternoon heat as they marched through the city’s main thoroughfares in a pre-Halloween celebration.
The Parade of Saints of the Catherina Cittadini-St. Louis School in Dumaguete City is on its third year now, deviating from the customary practice of people dressing up in scary and supernatural costumes during Halloween, to instead depict Catholic saints of their choice.
“It’s the school’s way of preserving the real meaning of All Saints’ Day,” said Roy Pavaricio, the school’s academic coordinator.
“In a way, (it‘s) our response to the invitation of the Church to make this day really attributed to all our Saints,” he added.
According to Pavaricio, the Cittadines are inspired “that we are called to be saints and that one day, we will be one of those saints in the Church.”
The students, from pre-school to junior high, are given the option to choose the saints they want to depict during the parade, depending on who it is that has inspired or touched them, the teacher said.
The Parade of Saints started in 2015, with school officials led by school principal Sr. Ma. Isabel Palomar, and directress Sr. Ellen Joy Cajegas, to encourage students understand more about sainthood and the life of the saints.
“With this, they are inspired to only do good, which is the meaning of true freedom,” said Pavaricio.
Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is celebrated in many countries including the Philippines on the eve of All Saints’ Day on November 1 and followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2.
Msgr. Julius Perpetuo Heruela, a liturgist of the Diocese of Dumaguete and parish priest of the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish in Bacong, Negros Oriental, said the liturgical celebrations highlight the importance of saints in the Christian world and the remembrance of the faithful departed.
He said saints and martyrs provide inspiration to people to lead holy lives and it is just but fitting to honor them on this particular feast day.
“All Saints’ Day is for the triumphant church, for those who have already arrived in heaven, something that all of us should desire,” Heruela said.
On the other hand, the observance of All Souls’ Day encourages people to offer prayers for the dead, who are suffering in Purgatory, that they would receive reparation for their sins, he said.
By offering prayers for the souls who are still in Purgatory (penitent church), they are eased of their suffering and temporal punishment as they go through a process of purging so they can enter heaven, he added.
And so people offer masses and prayers, light candles and visit the tombs and graves of their departed loved ones as a “sacrifice” for the souls, which also brings indulgences for the souls, the priest said on Monday.
He said that a cemetery is a sacred place where the deceased are awaiting resurrection.
Candles symbolize the light of Christ, which gives hope for all those who desire to go to heaven, Heruela said.
Heruela appealed to the Catholic lay faithful not to depict Halloween as a celebration for the supernatural, such as vampires, ghosts, and the like.
People need to be educated about the true meaning of the celebration of Halloween, rather than sticking to tradition and the customary practice of serving the favorite foods and drinks of the departed, he said.
These may have been handed down from “our pagan forefathers” but the true celebration of the Catholics and Christians is to focus on a prayerful observance of the twin feasts of the Church, Heruela said. (PNA)