The whole assembly of Ateneo Hearters was moved by the Sinulog spirit as the school community celebrated the Mass for the Feast of Sr. Sto. Niño last January 13, 2017 at the Magis Eagles Arena. The Eucharistic celebration began with a festive Sinulog dance by the Grade Six, with the special participation of former PTA president, Mrs. Juvy Osmeña, as festival queen, to warmly welcome the child Jesus, Sr. Sto. Niño.
Fr. Joel Liwanag, SJ, presided the Holy Mass and gave an inspiring message at the homily which described Sr. Sto. Niño as a King to be obeyed, a Child to be imitated, and a God to be trusted. He creatively used the meaningful image of Sr. Sto. Niño to explain his points. First, he said that the crown, royal robe, and scepter of Sr. Sto. Niño projected the image of a King. He then elaborated that Sr. Sto. Niño is our King to whom we owe our loyalty, respect and allegiance. Fr. Joel then asked the community to reflect whether we really obey Sr. Sto. Niño as our King (whose commandments and teachings we should follow) or whether we allow other kings to rule our life. Second, Fr. Joel then asked the community to look at the face of Sr. Sto. Niño and then he explained that Sr. Sto. Niño manifests the face of an innocent child. He said that the irony of the kingdom of God is that it belongs to little children who humble themselves. He invited the community to be like little children who are humble and innocent. Thirdly, Fr. Joel invited everyone to look at the sphere of Sto. Niño. The sphere which has a cross on top is a symbol of the world. And, in the image, Sr. Sto. Niño is carrying the world in the palm of His hand. This image tells the community that Sr. Sto. Niño is not just a king and a child but he is also a God: a God who loves us and holds us in the palm of His hand. To the community, Fr. Joel asked: Are you carrying a heavy burden in your heart? Allow Sr. Sto. Niño to carry your burdens the same way as Jesus carried the heavy cross for us to be saved. The homily eventually summoned the school community to trust Sr. Sto. Niño.
The call to Magis was shortly facilitated by Fr. Manny Uy, SJ, the school president, who recognized outstanding students who vividly manifested Magis in school. Myles Perez from Grade 10 – Canisius, a talented artist in the Junior High School, was recognized, together with his painting of Sr. Sto. Niño. Fr. Manny described Myles as a superhero because of his artistic gift that he used to bring glory to God. When asked why he was able to paint Sto. Niño’s image, Myles explained that whenever he would think of Cebu, the first thing that would come to his mind is Sr. Sto. Niño. Fr. Manny encouraged those who have talents, like Myles, to continue appreciating and nurturing their giftedness. Like the Sr. Sto. Niño, the little boy Johan Christofer Tabanao was also called on stage to inspire everyone of Sto. Niño’s message for us: Do not worry about anything but ask and pray for everything that you need. Johan then performed the Sinulog dance with the Sinulog beat brought by the Blue Beat Brigade. The mass came to an end with the final blessing and a beautiful song sung by Kent Isaac Boltiador of Grade 7 – Brebeuf , Jamie Alexendar Yap of Grade 6 – Bellarmine, and Eurika Grey Piedad of Grade 4 – Pignatelli as a Tribute to Sr. Sto Niño.
The Mass for Sr. Sto. Niño was indeed a profession of Faith to those who trust and follow our King, our Child, and our God: Sr. Sto. Niño.