The head pastor of Quiapo Church has disclosed a proposal to declare January 9 of every year as the national feast of the Black Nazarene.
Fr. Rufino “Jun” Sescon, the church’s rector, said that the ball is now in the Vatican’s court after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines approved the Manila archdiocese’s proposal during their plenary assembly in July 2023.
In the same meeting, the bishops also approved the petition to elevate Quiapo Church to national shrine status.
“It is our prayer that when we meet again next time, the Church will designate Jan. 9 as a national feast in honor of our beloved Black Nazarene,” Sescon said.
The priest made the statement after the vigil Mass for the feast of the Black Nazarene, presided over by Cardinal Jose Advincula at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Jan. 9.
“We want it to be a national feast for the Church so it is up to the bishops and the Pope to discuss this,” he added in a separate interview.
The feast, initially a parochial celebration, has organically spread and is now celebrated by devotees across the country and even abroad.
Advincula, in a letter to the CBCP in May 2023, pointed out that in the absence of a specific national liturgical directive, the celebrations become dependent on the priests or the community.
“Making it a national feast will definitely bring order and most especially joy to the millions of devotees, particularly those who cannot go to Quiapo,” the cardinal wrote.
This year’s celebration also marks the return of the traditional “Traslacion” or procession of the Nazarene image after a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his homily, Advincula encouraged the devotees to be ‘models’ of the life of Jesus Christ.
“A true devotee serves as a model, embodying the life of Jesus Christ. Through their life, one can witness faith in the Father and charity towards their neighbors,” he said.