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Church, city govt working for a peaceful Nazarene procession

MANILA, Jan. 3, 2012—With millions of devotees expected to join the annual fiesta of the Black Nazarene, Church officials are coordinating with city officials for a peaceful and orderly procession of the miraculous image from Luneta to Quiapo Church on January 9.

Quiapo church officials led by parish priest and Rector Msgr. Clemente Ignacio have been in meetings with City Hall officials, National Parks Authorities and other line agencies of the government since last August to ensure a safe and orderly transfer of the icon.

Considered the biggest fiesta celebration and longest procession in the Philippines, the annual religious event usually draws around 6 to 7 million devotees nationwide.

In one of the meetings with City Hall officials, Ignacio expressed his appreciation for the city government for its active involvement in providing security to ensure the safety of devotees.

He acknowledged that the Black Nazarene celebration is not just an occasion limited to Quiapo but a nationwide event.

The shrine rector also requested the media’s help in providing the right information about the event and to assist them in instructing the faithful on the right way of expressing one’s devotion.

Themed "Espiritu ng Ama at ng poong Nazareno, Sambayanang Pilipino Ibangon mo", the annual celebration will include the usual overnight vigil, with healing mass and catechesis at the Luneta’s Quirino grandstand on January 8.

On January 9, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle will lead the Eucharistic celebration at 6 am, followed by the procession of the image at 8 am.

The annual “Traslacion” commemorates the transfer in 1767 of the revered image of the “Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno” from Intramuros to Quiapo.

The icon, placed on a shoulder-borne carriage known as andas, is carried in procession by marshals that normally lasts late in the evening.

'Observe garbage-free celebration'

In a related development, environmental group Eco Waste Coalition has called on the public to observe a garbage-free celebration of the Black Nazarene feast.

The group appealed to Quiapo parish priest Msgr. Clemente Ignacio for help in reminding the faithful to observe a meaningful “traslacion” by making it garbage-free.

Aside from being disastrous to health and environment, group’s leader Roy Alvarez said the mountain of garbage left by devotees after the fiesta reflects against their show of devotion and religiosity during procession.

Ignacio for his part, has assured the group “that Quiapo Church is responding to the need to love the environment” and that devotees shall be reminded not to litter.

"Please be assured that Quiapo Church is responding to the need to love the environment," Ignacio told the group in reply.

"Our Ministry for Environmental Concerns has been active not just during fiestas but the whole year round. We admit we have not been a 100% near the ideal considering the volume of devotees who come to our fiestas. But we have improved through the years. Thanks to your constant reminders and letters," he said.

"We shall remind the devotees not to throw their garbage anywhere," he added.

Ignacio assured the group that youth and student volunteers will be mobilized to segregate the trash after the Masses.

The priest said the Metro Manila Development Authority and Manila's Department of Public Sanitation will also be around to help and follow the procession route.

Ignacio invited the EcoWaste Coalition to promote their environmental advocacy by volunteering members of the group in the Ministry's responses during the fiesta.

"We need more volunteers to remind, clean and work for love of the environment," he further said. (CBCPNews)