Men carry the Santo Niño (Christ child) down the main aisle of Saint Teresa Church, Albany. (Photogr
Features

St. Teresa, Albany Celebrates Feast of Santo Niño

Originally Appeared in : Vol. 100 No. 03

Parishioners from all walks of life gathered to celebrate the Feast of Santo Niño for the 50th year at St. Teresa’s Church in Albany on Saturday, Jan. 25. The event, which began with Novena prayers on Jan. 16, kicked off with a 5 p.m. Vigil Mass celebrated by Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. He was joined by Father Pablo Migone, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Savannah; Father Ray Levreault, V.F., Pastor of St. Teresa, Albany; Deacon Jay Dallas; and Deacon Michael Leach.

The entire celebration revolves around Santo Niño, meaning “Holy Child.” According to historians, the statue of infant Jesus was given to the Queen of Cebu when she converted to Catholicism in 1521, shortly after the Spaniards arrived. The Spanish left after their leader was killed in battle but returned 44 years later with an expedition that caused great destruction throughout the city. However, one of the sailors discovered the pine box containing Santo Niño which had been perfectly preserved all those years. This miracle triggered great devotion and affection for Santo Niño.

“A devotion to Santo Niño is a witness and example for all of us,” said Bishop Hartmayer. “A strong sense of Catholic identity which enables them to value their own culture and at the same time, adopt new situations and culture.”

To this day, the statue remains the oldest Christian artifact in the Philippines and is housed in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

The feast of Santo Niño originated 499 years ago and is celebrated by an annual festival called Sinulog that takes place in Cebu City, Philippines, and attracts up to three million people annually.

“When we celebrate the Feast of Santo Niño, we’re reminded that it’s the child Jesus who helps us see the presence of God in every person, and especially in every child,” said Bishop Hartmayer. “It is the child Jesus who inspires us to hope for peace and a better world for every person and for every child.”

St. Teresa parishioner Janette Enario is originally from Cebu City and she and her family celebrate the feast day every year. She served as one of the emcees for the event and played a vital role in helping the event come together. She proudly beamed as she stated that her son would be performing and playing the keyboard during the event.

“Our kids do not have the privilege of seeing this because we don’t get to go there, we only go to visit, so how we practice our faith, our devotion to Santo Niño, and even the simple cultural songs and dances . . . they will never experience those unless we show them,” said Enario.

“This is just a way for us also to show them part of our culture, tradition, faith, and devotion from our experience, and hopefully they’ll be able to pass it on to the next generation.”

Sarah Routh is a frequent freelance contributor to the Southern Cross and former member of St. Teresa’s Church in Albany. She and her husband, Lehman, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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