THE Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu has decided to forego religious activities outside the church premises during the 456th Fiesta Señor celebration in January 2021 as a precaution against transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The following have been cancelled: penitential Walk with Jesus as the opening salvo; penitential Walk with Mary on the last day of the novena; Traslacion of the images of Señor Sto. Niño and the Our Lady of Guadalupe from Cebu City to Mandaue City and finally to Lapu-Lapu City; fluvial procession; reenactment of the first mass, wedding and baptism; and solemn procession.
Even the proposed motorcade across the province will no longer push through because the people tend to gather along its route.
The cancellation of these major events was announced in a joint advisory issued Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, by the Basilica, Cebu City Goverment, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The solemn procession, held every third Saturday of January, usually attracts millions of devotees.
The Basilica said, however, that these events will be held during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in April 2021.
“The Augustinian friars and the executive committee of the Fiesta Señor, with the support of the Cebu City Government, will reappropriate the cancelled external activities to the upcoming 500 years celebration of the arrival of the venerable image of Señor Sto. Niño in coordination with the activities of the Archdiocese of Cebu in April 2021,” the advisory stated.
Basilica rector Rev. Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr. and Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella appealed to the public for understanding.
Novena Masses will proceed as scheduled from Jan. 8 to 17, 2021, with the first Mass to be held at 5 a.m. daily. There will still be Masses in English and Cebuano.
Only 1,000 people would be allowed, less than a third of the capacity of the Pilgrim’s Center.
CCPO chief Col. Josefino Ligan said they will enforce stringent security measures inside and outside the church premises. (PAC)