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Devotion to Santo Nino newest St. Anthony ministry

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Devotion to Santo Nino newest St. Anthony ministry

Isagani Bautista and Emelie Diaz are shown with the official banner of the Santo Nino Ministry at St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/ Bulletin Correspondent/

POSTED January 26, 2017 1:24 a.m.

The newest ministry at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca honors the Santo Nino, one of the oldest Christian relics in the Philippines.
For the last five years, Filipino parishioners devoted to the Santo Nino have been quietly but religiously spreading the need for constant prayer, particularly in “pray(ing) the rosary everyday.” It is a year-round ministry leading up to the annual celebration of the feast of the Santo Nino on the third Sunday of January.
The ministry is an ongoing and continuous prayer activity, one that involves moving the Santo Nino statue “from house to house.” This is how it works, as explained by devotees Celso and Cora Doria. Parishioners “host” the image of the Santo Nino in their home for a week starting on Saturday. During those seven days, the hosts’ main responsibility is to recite the rosary everyday in front of the Santo Nino altar. At the end of the week, the statue is then moved to the next volunteer hosts.
“Whoever is interested to invite the Santo Nino to their home” can take part in this prayer-centered ministry, explained Cora Doria, an area Realtor.
The daily prayer is the focus of their mission, said Celso Doria who works in health care for Alameda County.
“It’s a simple way to keep the Filipino tradition of the Santo Nino,” he explained.
During the course of their ministry, members were surprised to discover that there are some Catholics who do not know how to say the rosary, a devotion in honor of the Virgin Mary which consists of a set number of specific prayers that include the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed recited while meditating on the highlights of the life of Christ; namely, the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous mysteries. The last one was added by the late pope, now St. John Paul II.
With the help of the Santo Nino hosting requirement to pray the Marian devotion - either with just the family members or with others, “Now they are starting to pray the rosary,” Celso Doria was happy to note.
In the days leading to the annual feast day of the Santo Nino, a novena is prayed daily for nine days. At the conclusion of the novena, a special Mass is offered in the church followed by a celebration of Filipino food, fun, and cultural entertainment in the church gym. This year, the annual feast day celebration was held last Sunday in the church gym.
Anyone interested in hosting the Santo Nino at their home for a week, or in becoming an active part of the Santo Nino Ministry can call 209.679.3748. The group’s spiritual director is Father Dante Dammay, St. Anthony’s parochial vicar.
The story of the Santo Nino
A papal bull issued on April 28, 1965 by Pope Paul VI marked the official papal recognition of the Santo Nino image. The date was significant. The day celebrated the 400th anniversary of the rediscovery of the statue in the Visayan island of Cebu.
The original Santo Nino statue, made of dark wood in baroque style depicting the Child Jesus as a king arrayed like Spanish royalty, is only approximately 12 inches tall. It found its way to the Philippines in 1521 when the explorer Ferdinand Magellan presented it as a gift to Rajah Humabon and his wife after landing on the island.
It is believed to have miraculous powers since an incident in 1565. When another Spanish expedition led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived on April 27, 1565 in Cebu, a fire burned the coastal town including the structure where the statue was being kept. Legend has it that a pine box containing the Santo Nino was discovered among the ruins, unscathed, which was seen as a sign of a miracle. The image is venerated as miraculous by Filipino Catholics.

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