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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Thousands of religious devotees braved the bad weather to take part in Cagayan de Oro City’s version of Quiapo’s Traslacion, but Archbishop Jose Cabantan expressed concern because fewer younger Catholics joined the annual procession on Monday morning, January 9.
More than 10,000 people took part in the morning procession from the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral to the Nazareno parish church in downtown Cagayan de Oro, according to City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Nick Jabagat.
The figure was a far cry from the larger crowds that characterized Cagayan de Oro’s Traslacion in pre-pandemic times.
Cabantan said he observed that younger Catholics – millennials and those belonging to Generation Z – were shifting away from traditional religious rituals in favor of social media and youth activities.
“The young seem not to appreciate that religious rituals like the Black Nazarene procession help fortify their faith,” the archbishop said.
Cagayan de Oro’s Traslacion – a procession to reenact the transfer of the life-sized sculpture of a dark-hued, kneeling Jesus Christ from its original shrine in Intramuros to the Quiapo Church centuries ago – also marked the 2009 arrival of one of the image’s old replicas in the city. The replica was given by the Quiapo Church.
Still, Cabantan said he was elated by the turnout of this year’s Traslacion in the city.
“Despite two years of absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people still pray to the Black Nazarene. Sadly, the youth were not there,” the archbishop said.
But Father Der John Faborada, the head of the local archdiocese’s social communications department, said the absence of young people was understandable since classes for all religious schools in the city opened the same day.
Faborada said other youth activities of the archdiocese were well-attended.
The procession was orderly, but Jabagat said medical responders had attended to two elderly devotees after they complained of dizziness.
A member of the Hijos del Nazareno also passed out while he was with a group securing the replica of the Black Nazarene during the procession.
It was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out that the city held the Traslacion. During the first two years of the pandemic, the image of the Black Nazarene was paraded around the city in the wee hours sans the usual crowd.
The Cagayan de Oro City government had allowed the Traslacion to push through but required strict health protocols, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.
In Manila, the Traslacion was canceled, although other related church activities were held in Quiapo.
In neighboring Iligan City, about 1,000 Catholic devotees attended a Mass officiated at the Saint Michael Cathedral in time for Black Nazarene procession which didn’t draw a large crowd, according to Major Zandrex Panolong, the spokesman of the Iligan City Police Office.
“The weather was bad, and it was a Monday,” said Father Enrique Lacostules, a spiritual director at the Catholic diocese of Iligan.
Lacostules said the Iligan diocese was also given a copy of original Black Nazarene sculpture by the Quiapo Church but the annual procession in the city has paled in comparison to that of Cagayan de Oro “because they were the first in Mindanao.” – with reports from Merlyn Manos / Rappler.com