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Sto. Niño shrine built in Vancouver parish

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Aug 17 2022 08:10 PM

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After several delays due to the pandemic, the icon of the Sto. Niño de Cebu finally arrived in British Columbia a week before the scheduled dedication of the new Sto. Niño shrine at the St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Agassiz city.

The icon was donated to the Archdiocese of Vancouver by Nonito Lim-Chua of Cebu before the pandemic. St. Anthony of Padua Parish priest Fr. Dennis Flores wrote to the archdiocese and asked if the Sto. Niño can be given to their parish.

"Sto. Niño is always in the heart of every Cebuano and I had a wish that somehow it could be commemorated where I am, where I now live in Canada. And yes, I had a dream that a shrine could be built dedicated to the Sto. Niño," Flores said.

Flores asked for the help of the Filipino community in raising the funds needed to build the shrine, and several groups undertook the fundraising. Filipino Canadian business 'Aling Mary’s Pandesal' was able to raise $15,000, while another $50,000 was donated by a non-Filipino. More donations poured in, including $4,000 from Prime World in the Philippines. In just a few months, various Filipino Canadian groups involved were able to raise $450,000.

"The idea is, the Filipino community kasi ito so mga negosyanteng Pilipino, nagpapakita sila ng suporta," Sto. Niño Fundraising Steering Committee member Tony Ortega said, adding that they made sure that all funds raised for the shrine are fully documented to ensure transparency.

(The idea is, because this is the Filipino community, so FIlipino business owners have shown their support.)

Construction began in May and was completed after three months. The Sto. Niño shrine follows the shape of Magellan's Cross Pavilion in Cebu.

"It's patterned after the Magellan's Cross in Cebu. If you happen to go to Cebu, there's, beside the Basilica, the building. Basilica Church. There is the famous Magellan’s cross kiosk, it's an octagonal kind of building," Flores noted.

The construction of the shrine cost more than $200,000. Flores said the balance will be used to make beautifications and turn the shrine into a park. The blessing and dedication of the shrine, and enthronement of the Sto. Niño will be officiated by Archbishop Michael J. Miller.

Flores estimates that about 2,500 will attend the enthronement, with some coming from as far as Seattle, Oregon, and California, as well as from Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta.

"I'm so happy to receive the image directly coming from Cebu City. So I'm thankful for the people of Cebu, especially the family that came and brought this image to be enthroned on Saturday," Flores said.

The priest also expects many of the Catholic faithful to make a pilgrimage to the shrine after the enthronement.