Filipino Catholics mark 25th anniversary of enthronement of Santo Niño de Cebu
The image of the Christ Child as Santo Niño de Cebu has been venerated at St. Joseph Church in Peoria for 25 years, but it is more than a local custom, according to Father William Miller, pastor.
“It takes us back to the very beginnings of Christianity brought to the people of the Philippines – the first conversion, the first handing on of the faith,” he told the members of the Filipino-American community who gathered at the church for the annual celebration on July 15.
“Part of God’s providence is that the people of the Philippines would be a people who would migrate through the world and bring with them the tradition that was handed on to them,” Father Miller said in his homily.
The Mass included two processions with the statue of Santo Niño that is enthroned at St. Joseph. The first was at the beginning of the liturgy and the second included all the images of Santo Niño that people brought from home to be blessed.
Anniversary festivities continued with a potluck reception with many Filipino delicacies at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria.
STAYING CLOSE TO JESUS
The Santo Niño de Cebu is the oldest religious icon in the Philippines. Ferdinand Magellan brought it with him from Spain to the island nation in 1521 and gave it Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan to celebrate their baptism into the Catholic faith.
Seeing the image of Christ, who made himself so small, shows his great love for us, Father Miller said. And yet he makes himself even smaller in the Eucharist as “the one whom we receive in holy Communion, the one we adore in the tabernacle, in the monstrance.”
To acknowledge that, the Mass ended with Benediction.
“We have a God who has shown that loving means making yourself small and available and accessible to others,” said Father Miller, who is also rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral and pastor of Sacred Heart, both in Peoria.
While it is important to honor the Christ Child as the Santo Niño de Cebu, we need Jesus every day, he emphasized.
“We are not going to survive this crazy, mixed up, broken world unless we stick together, close to Jesus,” Father Miller said. “He has given us everything we need to be faithful. We do not need to be afraid. But we do need to take seriously the call then to live that faith every day.
“May this celebration strengthen our conviction of how blessed we are and how we must live that blessing and share that blessing with others,” he said.