TACLOBAN City, Dec. 26, 2014 — A year and a month after it was severely damaged by the devastating super typhoon Yolanda, the city’s iconic Sto. Niño Church was blessed and rededicated in a concelebrated Mass on Dec. 24 presided over by Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du, DD.

Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du, DD celebrates a Mass for the rededication of Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City on Dec. 24, 2014. (Photo: Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros)

Prominent church

The Sto. Niño Church, which served as an evacuation center for hundreds of parishioners on the eve of the onslaught of Yolanda on Nov. 8 last year, has been known for its aesthetic beauty, thus earning the reputation for being a top tourist destination in Tacloban City.

However, when the prominent church, which is where many Catholics in Eastern Visayas converge for major spiritual activities, was damaged by typhoon Yolanda, it was temporarily closed.

Tthe Tzu Chi Taiwan Buddhist Foundation One was one of the groups that responded positively to a fundraising campaign for the repair of the church led by Sto. Niño Church parish vicars Msgr. Alex Opiniano and Fr. Isagani Petilos.

With the expertise of respected Manila-based architect Dominic Galicia, the initial plans for repair developed into a full-blown master plan for rehabilitation and eventual transformation of the edifice which has stood on the same spot for 175 years.

‘Eye of the storm’

Before the start of the mass, Opiniano explained that the elaborate design of the edifice brought about the huge renovation cost. According to him, the design was inspired by the history and culture of Taclobanons, highlighting the significance of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, which can be compared to the eye of the storm where there is quietude and calmness.

The image of the Sto. Niño enshrined in the circular encasement at the upper part of the retablo will take also be a focal point for attention, as conceptualized by the architect.

The total work requires a little more than P64 million, more than half of which is being shouldered by the Tzu Chi Foundation, headed by Master Cheng Yen and locally led by Alfredo Li.

This amount would cover expenses for the repair of the rectory and the installation of an better sound system and lighting, as well as a state of the art fence.

The Tzu Chi pledged to give the remaining amount of P15 million for the remaining expenses for construction and for the needed lighting and sound systems.

When repairs started, a make-shift covered yet open worship hall was constructed at Plaza Rizal located in front of the Sto. Niño Church for Masses and other sacraments.

Contrary to fears that the structure would be damaged again by typhoon Ruby that hit Eastern Visayas early this December, the structure remained intact, continually serving as a temporary worship hall. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)