The annual “Fiesta Señor” celebration in Cebu City kicked off virtually Friday at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño amidst rising cases of coronavirus infections.
Instead of the traditional dawn procession “Walk with Jesus,” the Augustinian fathers this time held a mobile procession along the city’s major streets, where devotees lined up to catch a glimpse of the Child Jesus.
Augustinian Fr. Nelson Zerda, rector of the Basilica, who celebrated the opening Mass, encouraged devotees to continue to hope and pray for the end of the pandemic despite another year of “varying degrees of isolation” in the wake of typhoon Odette.
He shared that the Gospel today, where Jesus touched and healed the leper, reassured God’s people of his continued grace and help. “Thankfully, we are not alone,” Zerda stressed.
“We continue to pray for courage and strength that like the leper in today’s gospel we too would be able to humbly express our prayers, our petitions, our sanctity to the Child Jesus. Pleading: Lord, if you wish you can make us clean,” he said.
Here, he added, Jesus “once more” delivered his “afflicted people” from their predicament relating it to this year’s 457th Fiesta Theme “Santo Niño: Our Source of Communion, Life for Mission.”
“It’s not more on us being attracted and magnetized by the Bato-balani (Child Jesus as a magnet), attracted by God, but it’s more on God who is magnetized by our cries…our prayers, by our petitions,” the priest said.
Aside from canceling the conduct of physical novena Masses, the once crowded pilgrim center was also converted into a huge space where devotees lit candles and venerated a replica of the miraculous image of the original Sto. Niño.