AMETHYST Caña, 50, makes it a point to join the Penitential Walk for Jesus every year.

Caña, a resident of the City of Naga, Cebu, was one of 80,000 devotees who attended the opening salvo of the 453rd Fiesta Señor celebration yesterday.

Accompanied by her son and daughter, the single mom said that part of her annual ritual is finishing the novena.

Caña said that her devotion to the Sto. Niño helped her steer her family to the right direction.

Even though her husband left her for another woman, she said she is no longer bitter because the Sto. Niño taught her to forgive.

“He showed me that it is not good to harbor hate. It was difficult when my husband left me, but I decided not to dwell on that for my children’s sake,” Caña said in Cebuano.

In his homily during the opening mass at the pilgrim center of the Basilica del Sto. Niño, Fr. Pacifico “Jun” Nohara Jr. said the yearly penitential walk for Jesus is not some exercise routine that they impose on devotees.

“This is your sacrifice, your manifestation of faith towards the Sto. Niño,” said Nohara, who is rector and prior of the basilica.

In his homily, Nohara urged devotees to become disciples of the new evangelization by bringing the devotion of the Child Jesus to others.

With the challenges of growing secularization, he urged devotees to remain true to their Christian faith through their devotion to the Sto. Niño.

Nohara said Cebuanos are truly blessed that the original image of the Sto. Niño, which was brought to the country in 1521, is still here.

“How blessed we are that the original image of the Sto. Niño, one of the oldest religious icons in the country, is here with us, is always with us, constantly guiding our ways,” Nohara said.

He urged devotees, including members of the clergy and the religious, to not allow the growing Christian faith in Cebu to stagnate.

He also urged devotees to remain true to their Christian vows despite the challenges that hound them on a regular basis.

“Let us remember that God is not happy with those who hate his fellow human being. God doesn’t favor the proud and the unrepentant,” Nohara added.

During the mass, Nohara also introduced Mark Joel Go and his mother Rosalina as this year’s Hermano and Hermana Mayores.