Iconic Sto. Niño Church’s renovation needs more funds

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Workers continue to repair the Sto. Nino Church in Tacloban City a year after the typhoon Yolanda disaster, 7 Nov 2014. (Vincent Go)

TACLOBAN City, Nov. 16, 2014- Although this iconic edifice of the Taclobanons spirituality will not be among the places Pope Francis will visit January next year, the parish vicars are continually encouraging the faithful to support the fundraising effort to complete the renovation of the Sto. Niño Church four days ahead of the start of Simbang Gabi on Dec. 15.

The church edifice, which was badly damaged by super typhoon Yolanda, is yet undergoing a nearly Php 60 million major renovation which needs some Php 29 million more to finish. The parish has only about a month to generate the needed amount with limited major donors to depend on. The church has already received at least Php 30 million from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and a few million from other patrons, as well as from the Sunday second collections and anticipated masses of Saturdays.

Miracle needed

“Needless to say, we still need quite a lot of money to complete the project but we have been appealing to our faithful devotees of Sto. Niño for a miracle,” parish priest Msgr. Alex Opiniano said, adding, “Our prayer for miracle should be accompanied by our desire to do our part in meeting the required finances.”

While there are some quarters which are getting concerned about the delay in the completion of the renovation due to the hefty amount needed, the cleric expressed confidence that the renovation will finish on schedule.

According to Opiniano, the church “gives everyone the opportunity to demonstrate and manifest his or her desire to be a part of this undertaking thru material or monetary support big or small for as long as what they give is an expression of something that means a lot to them.”

He stressed, “The amount doesn’t really matter but the sincerity and the desires to be part of this undertaking,” pointing out, “What is most important and at the end of the day after the completion of the project everyone can say that I am part of this project. This is my church, this is our church.”

An international humanitarian group called Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation based in Taiwan has already given its pledge of Php 30 million for the renovation. This nevertheless turned out to be insufficient since the entire project includes the repairs as well of the convent and of the office; fixtures and equipment that have to be purchased for the said office, totalling Php 8 million more. From December 2013 up to the present, total contributions received have only reached Php 5 million.

Opiniano explained the cause of the cost puff up saying, “Understandably that time, we did not have any idea of what will come out with the design of our designated architect. We were just looking at the damaged area bearing in mind what it used to look like and make some improvements to it. But in the process the architect got inspiration and came up with this design it has been approved by the council and after some consultation with the representatives of the community.”

‘Healing of pain’

Ofel Zamora, a resident of adjacent town of Palo but a regular communicant in masses at Sto. Niño Church, commented, “Some of the people said the repair of the said church is expensive, but for those who experienced the past super typhoon Yolanda, it serves as a wake up call to regain our faith and trust in God.”

For Rico Tañare, a parishioner and devotee of the Sto. Niño, “The completion of the renovation of the church will serve as the healing of pain of the people from what they experienced at the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda.”

There was an ongoing Mass at the Sto. Niño Church when the typhoon started to make landfall in Tacloban. The parish social hall, as well as the rectory served as an evacuation center in the eve of the typhoon until the morning of Nov. 8 last year. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros)

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