LET Jesus Christ’s unique experience of resurrection renew your hope and love, a Church official urged the faithful in his Easter Sunday message.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who celebrated mass in the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday morning, also asked believers to “go back to Galilee.”
“Going back to Galilee means to be inspired once more, recall why you follow Jesus and renew your commitment to God,” he said.
Also yesterday, about 50,000 people turned up for the Sugat-Kabanhawan Festival in Minglanilla, a police official said.
The town’s elaborate reenactment of the reunion between the resurrected Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most popular religious activities during Holy Week in Cebu.
Fortunately, the festivity in Minglanilla did not complicate the traffic yesterday morning, the police also said.
In his message in the Cathedral, Archbishop Palma encouraged the faithful to celebrate Christ’s victory over death and also highlighted Mary’s role in Christ’s divine mission.
“We are a beautiful people because we are God’s children,” he said.
Palma also commended the people who are supporting preparations for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu in January 2016.
Presentations by the Sandiego dancers and the University of the Visayas Chorale highlighted the Sugat organized by the archdiocese, which took place before the mass.
A similar sequence was observed in Minglanilla, where the performance on the resurrection of Christ was held in the Minglanilla Central School, followed by the procession to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the mass. The procession covered about 300 meters.
Minglanilla Police Chief Richard Gadingan said that securing a crowd of some 50,000 was a challenge for the fewer than 100 police operatives deployed during the event. (The Cebu Provincial Police Office sent 25 officers to assist the town’s police.)
He said they seized knives and other bladed instruments from some minors who witnessed the festival.
The police chief suggested doing away with the procession and holding the mass in the same venue as the Sugat, so the security teams won’t have to cover so much ground.
But Fr. Arnie Visitacion, who celebrated mass, said he was thankful that the traditional way of celebrating the Sugat was revived.
“It’s nice to have Mama Mary and Jesus back in the church right after the procession. I hope we could keep doing this in the coming years,” he said. It made the celebration more solemn, he observed.
In the previous years, people complained that while the mass was ongoing, drunk people on the roadside were noisy and rowdy, and the mass participants couldn’t concentrate.
“We should focus on the risen Jesus himself and not the festivities,” Fr. Visitacion said.
Municipal Administrator Concordio Mejias said the procession and the decision to hold the mass inside the church were among the changes in this year’s Sugat.
He said the budget for the entire festival was about P3.1 million.
Lady Bacus, a member of the Parish Grand Choir who sang for yesterday’s celebration, said that the mass this year was more peaceful compared to last year’s affair.
“I have been serving the church for 15 years. This year’s celebration is more orderly compared to the last. There really is a difference between a mass held in church and a mass held in the oval,” she said.
Among the highlights of the Sugat’s performance was the fight scene between St. Michael and Lucifer, depicted as an eagle. The lifting of the black veil that covered the image of the Virgin Mary signaled the start of the Sugat.
Event director Victor Cuenco, who is on his 11th year supervising the performance, said he was pleased with this year’s Sugat.
“Hopefully, next year we would be able to improve the costumes of the actors and actresses, like lighting them up,” he said. (Johanna Marie O. Bajenting, Franchesca Lee and Gwyneth Felisilda, USJR-Mass Com Interns)