Published: 19 January 2015
In St Thomas’s Parish, Mareeba, the thirtieth anniversary of its fiesta in honour of the feast of the Holy Child Jesus, the Señor Santo Niño de Cebu took place on Sunday, 18 January 2015.
This happened after months of planning for this special Mass by the Filipino community in Mareeba and by some others from Cairns.
The presider of the Mass was Fr Jepser Bermudez OSA who came from Sydney along with two Augustinian seminarians. A concelebrant was Fr Rob Greenup and Deacon Ralph Madigan participated, both of them from Indigenous Connections of the Diocese of Cairns.
The devotion to Santo Niño has grown in the Philippines since 1521, when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived and planted the cross in an island in the centre of the Philippines, and presented the image of the child Jesus, the Saint Niño, to the chieftain’s wife. Pilgrims from different parts of the world now make their yearly journey to churches to take part in the festival and procession.
Each province in the Philippines developed its own way of celebrating the Feast. Street dancing and merrymaking mark this event. Since 2012 the Filipino community in Mareeba has been introducing the different Filipino traditions of the celebration. This year the festival called Masskarra, meaning a multitude of faces, was shown.
This year’s Mass began with Mareeba Filipino parishioners entering the church to music and dance. The church was filled to capacity with families and persons of many nationalities. Following Mass the Santo Niño statue was carried around the adjacent school grounds to the basketball courts where a shared meal with delicious Filipino food and entertainment was enjoyed by many.
For details about the Santo Niño fiesta in the Augustinian Minor Basilica in the City of Cebu itself, click here.
For news on the re-opening of the Minor Basilica in Cebu after last year’s earthquake, click here for the APAC website.