The Augustinian Friars of the Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu announced that the annual fiesta celebration in honor of the Child Jesus, or Santo Niño, will be done “virtually” next year.
In a statement read by Father John Ion Miranda, OSA, the Augustinian Friars said they have decided to forgo more activities and focus on the celebration of the daily novena Masses from within the Church.
Father Miranda said that upon consultation with local authorities, the celebration of the daily novena Masses starting Jan. 7, 2022, will be closed to the public and would only be limited to the clergy, volunteers, and the fiesta’s Hermano or Hermana Mayor.
This year’s fiesta celebration theme is “Sto. Niño: Our Source of Communion, Life for Mission.”
All of the 10 novena Masses will be streamed online daily starting 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the basilica’s social media platforms.
“We appeal for understanding of all Cebuanos and devotees of Sr. Sto Niño de Cebu as we take on precautionary measures to protect the health of all,” said Father Miranda.
“It is our moral and Christian obligation to protect one another against COVID-19,” added the priest.
He also asked for understanding that this year, there will be no public veneration of the original image of the Sto. Niño inside the church.
Instead, a copy of the image will be placed at the pilgrim center, still within the basilica compound, for public veneration.
There will be no big LED screens and speakers installed around the basilica compound to avoid the gathering of people.
Volunteers are also required to present a medical certificate and a vaccination card before being allowed to serve in the fiesta activities.
Father Genesis Labana, OSA, media officer of the basilican, said traditional major Fiesta Señor activities, which include the Walk with Jesus, Walk With Mary, and the Solemn Penitential Walk, will be replaced with mobile processions.
On January 15, the penitential walk, which usually attracts thousands of devotees, will be replaced with the mobile procession from the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Cordova town.
Parishes and the different Cofradia del Sto. Niño de Cebu chapters are encouraged to do their own novena prayers in their respective parishes.