The 3rd day of May is just a regular day to many but not for the parishioners of Santuario del Sto. Cristo because this day is the day when our church has been elevated to become a Parish 79 years ago; the official inauguration was carried out by the Archbishop of Manila himself, Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty. All of our parishioners are looking forward for this special day and wanted to be part of the history in our parish.
Last May 3, 2021 the Parish of Santuario del Sto. Cristo celebrated its yearly feast by having special masses, opening a weekly community pantry for the parishioners, and concluding the celebration with a thanksgiving and a procession.
As part of the preparation for the fiesta, our parish held nine (9) days of Novena Masses and we are blessed because these Novena masses were graced by different Priests from different Churches and communities. The guest priests who presided the Masses were as follows (from first day to last): Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, Op, Fr. Joel Rescober, CM, Fr. Manuel Abogado Jr. Chaplain, Cardinal Santos Hospital, Fr. Luis Sierra, OP, Msgr. Vicente Bauson, Msgr. Bong Lo, Fr. Iric Onceno, OSJ, Fr. Maximo Gatela, OP, and Fr. Paul Talavera, OP.
During the night before the feast day, the Samahan ng Santo Cristo and other parishioners brought down the replica image of the Sto. Cristo and placed it in the façade of the parish for the dungaw, a time given to the faithful to venerate on the Cross. In the early morning of May 3, many devotees were praying to the sacred image while some were already entering in the church preparing for the Holy Mass. Before the mass took place, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, DD blessed the image in the dungaw and greeted some of the parishioners outside the church.
The first Fiesta Mass started at 7 o’clock in the morning and was presided by His Excellency Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Despite of the pandemic and limited capacity of the church, there were still a lot of faithful devotees who attended the Holy Mass. During the Mass, Bishop Broderick Pabillo emphasized the meaning of John 3:16 as he said in his Homily, “There is no greater proof of God’s love for us than sending His only Son to become one of us, until the day He lay down in the Cross and give His life to save us all”. At the end of the Mass, the imposition of garment took place.
The Sto. Cristo Community Pantry was officially opened in the patio of the Parish and was blessed by Bishop Pabillo himself immediately after the Fiesta Mass. The parishioners started lining up and getting their ayudas one by one. Members from different organizations and ministries of our Parish were all extending a helping hand and were all happy to be of service to the Sto. Cristo and our parishioners.
The 9 o’clock Mass was graced by His Excellency Archbishop Socrates Villegas, OP, DD who traveled all the way from Pangasinan and celebrated the Fiesta Mass for the first time in our parish. There was a line in the Homily of Bishop Socrates Villegas that struck a lot of parishioners and that is “If we fall down, stand up then start again”. This line gives us hope and motivation that whenever we get lost along the way, we can always stand up again and continue walking towards the light of Christ. The imposition of garment also took place after the Mass. Those who were imposed received a blessing from our dear Sto. Cristo.
The second batch of community pantry took place and was participated by Mayor Francis Zamora. The estimated number of parishioners who came to the pantry is about 150-250 people, and they were all able to receive foods like vegetables, rice, egg, taho, and other safety essentials like masks and face shields to keep them protected every day. Additionally, a third-class relic from the garment of the Sto. Cristo was also distributed. Our Parish is grateful for every kind hearted people who donated to our community pantry and all those who offered their service during this day.
A thanksgiving mass presided by our Parish Priest Fr. Matthias Nga Reh, OP were offered at 6 o’clock in the afternoon where he concluded the feast and thank everyone who has been a big part of the celebration, naming the Dominican Fathers, Social Communications, Ministry of Altar Servers, Lay Minister, Word Ministry, Music Ministry, and other religious organizations in the Parish. After the Mass, a short procession was held and attended by limited number of people following the health and safety protocol of the government.
Despite of the pandemic and its limitations, we were still able to celebrate the Feast Day of Sto. Cristo because of our love and devotion to our dear Patron. It may not be the same like the previous years but seeing everyone altogether praising the name of God and celebrating as one family and community made this feast day a wonderful and successful one. All glory to our Lord for continuously blessing our Parish and keeping us from harm.
Let us pray for healing, protection, and for better days with hope of celebrating our next fiesta on how we used to do it by having a band, salu-salo in the patio and procession outside the Parish to physically reach and bless more parishioners.
Happy Fiesta and Viva Sto. Cristo!
Written by: Michaelito Bongalos