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CEBU, Philippines – Young Filipino Catholics have managed to reinvent worshiping the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) by bringing devotees at home to a digital replica of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu (BMSN) on the online game platform Roblox.
The community started in 2019 and began its formal activities in 2020.
David John Torres, RFC lead administrator and director for external affairs, told Rappler on Tuesday, January 16, that it was an effort to preserve devotions that were set aside during the pandemic and help young Catholics who were isolated at home.
“It was a semblance of normalcy for everyone…Kids would no longer need to go to Cebu, Quiapo, to celebrate these things since they can celebrate online,” Torres added.
As the physical gatherings and celebrations gradually returned, the lead administrator shared that they continued their activities and even accepted requests to hold religious activities upon the request of bishops.
“The bishop of Iligan requested us to do the Diyandi Festival, which we did on the platform,” Torres said.
This year, Lorence Canono, a 19-year-old education student from the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), took on the role of being the lead developer of the Roblox version of the BMSN.
Canono told Rappler in a separate interview that despite not yet having experienced the Fiesta Señor or the Sinulog festival in person, he wanted to give young devotees such as himself the opportunity to witness it in the virtual realm.
“I can see the joy it brings when people are devoting themselves to Santo Niño,” Canono said.
Hence, Canono and his team of developers replicated the BMSN Pilgrim Center, and with the help of fellow RFC members, conducted novena masses on the game platform.
“I encourage the young, the old, the LGBTQIA, and others to join us. We are very inclusive and we are all as one for the celebration of the Santo Niño,” Canono said.
At present, the RFC community has around 4,000 members from different parts of the country, consisting of students, altar servers, members of parish ministries, and members of worship groups.
If you’d like to join the RFC’s religious activities, check out their official Facebook page here. – Rappler.com