The Holy Infant Jesus (Santo Niño) is the Patron of the Philippines. The traditional devotion was brought to the United States by the Filipino migrants. One of the results is the Santo Niño Prayer Groups of New York founded in 1983 by a group of Santo Nino devotees. This group has grown significantly since its founding and has branched out into several groups – Manhattan, Queens, Bronx & Brooklyn and the Staten Island chapters.
The Santo Niño Prayer Groups of New York were very much involved with the Filipino Pastoral Ministry (FPM) of Our Lady Pompei Church, Greenwich Village. The FPM provided a meaningful and comprehensive program for the Filipino immigrants and their families; emphasizes the preservation of the Filipino traditional moral values and cultural heritage. Under the guidance of the late Father Bobby Sison, the Santo Nino Prayer Groups of New York served as the conduit to the vast majority of Filipino – American immigrants that the FPM serves. This group has grown significantly since its founding in 1983 and has branched out into several groups – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island Chapters.
The devotion to the Santo Nino brought many Filipino families together. A member’s home serve as host for a week to pray and sometimes in celebration of a special occasion like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. As part of his apostolate, Father Bobby would come and join the group in their prayer meetings.
The transfer of the Image to another host is usually done on Sundays after the weekly devotion. The scheduling of the home visitation is handled by the Coordinators of the different chapter. They also coordinate with the Filipino Pastoral Ministry on all its Santo Nino related programs and activities .
The honoring of Santo with nine weeks Novena and Misang Pilipino in preparation for the Feast day of Santo Niño has become the tradition among members and their families. In the duration of the Novena the transfer of the Image is done in the church. The Pistang Pilipino sa Village in honor of Santo Niño is celebrated every year on the third Sunday of June, Father’s day.
The Santo Niño Prayer Groups of New York celebrated the Santo Niño Fiesta twice a year. The first celebration was on the 3rd Sunday of January held at St Patrick’s Church in Long Island City that started in 1984 sponsored by the SPGNY-Queens. And the second celebration was every Father’s day in June sponsored by the SPGNY-Manhattan chapter.
The SPGNY – Manhattan chapter celebrated the annual feast day of Santo Niño in different churches in Manhattan until Father Bobby Sison, the first Spiritual Director of the SPG-NY transferred to Our Lady of Pompei in the summer of 1987. The then Father Provincial of the Scalabrinian Fathers, the Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S. Papal Nuncio to Geneva, invited him to establish the Filipino Pastoral Ministry at Our Lady of Pompei in New York to assist the many Filipinos spread out throughout the metropolitan area.
Father Bobby launched the Filipino Pastoral Ministry on October 26, 1988 with the Novena to Mother of Perpetual Help and in the following year the Santo Niño Fiesta was held in the village.
On June 18, 1989 the first Santo Niño Feast day was celebrated at Our Lady of Pompei Church sponsored by the SPG/NY – Manhattan chapter.
Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary which is jointly sponsored by the different SPG/NY Chapters. SPGNY celebrated its 25th anniversary on June 15, 2008 hosted by the SPGNY – Manhattan Chapter.
The devotion to Santo Nino affiliated with the FPM were not only confined in New York but also in other states such as Boston, Massachusetts and Kissemmee, Florida initiated by former members of the SPGNY who moved in and relocated to this respective states.
Another religious tradition that the Filipino Pastoral Ministry and the Santo Niño Prayer Groups of New York initiated 23 years ago is the May Flower Festival “Flores de Mayo” in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The flower offering by the children during all Sundays of May is highlighted by the crowning of the statue of the Virgin Mary and the Santakrusan procession. Many participants of the Santakrusan are the sons and daughters of the members and member families Santo Nino Prayer Groups of New York. The Santakrusan procession included the traditional Sinulog dance for Santo Nino by the SPG-NY members. The colorful “patadyong” and the booming beat of the drum signals the start of the festive celebration to honor Santo Nino. The Sinulog group was organized in 1995 by the members of the SPG-NY to show devotion to Santo Nino through the prayer dance offering and has become an integral part of the Santakrusan and the Santo Niño Fiesta celebration at Our Lady of Pompei.
We pay tribute to late Father Bobby Sison, the founding Director of the Filipino Pastoral Ministry and the first Spiritual Director of the SPGNY for his pioneering effort in establishing the Filipino Pastoral Ministry to become the welcoming church for the Filipino community and the spiritual guidance he gave to all of us during his lifetime. Under the guidance of Fr. Bobby Sison the SPG/NY expanded and the activities continued to flourish. We also thank Msgr. Romulo Montero for providing spiritual guidance to the SPG/NY during his term as Director of the Filipino Pastoral Ministry.
We also pay tribute to the pioneers, the first generation members of the SPG-NY who started the devotion and to the new generation of members and member families who will carry on the propagation of the Santo Niño devotion.
Let us be proud of our tradition. Let us continue to work together to keep it alive.
Mabuhay ang Santo Niño!
Today we celebrate one of the oldest Filipino traditions: the Feast day Celebration of the Santo Nino whose image was first given, as a gift, to the first converts of Christianity in the Philippines centuries ago. Through his image, the Philippines have become the only Christian nation in whole of Asia.
Thirty years ago, a small group of Filipinos have come together to have a Mass celebrated in honor of Santo Nino in thanksgiving for the good life they now have in the United States. From that first thanksgiving Mass, the group has become what is now known as the SANTO NINO PRAYER GROUPS OF NEW YORK- Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island.
The Santo Nino Prayer Groups of New York (SPG/NY) serve as the catalyst to many of the activities of the Filipino Pastoral Ministry (FPM) of Our Lady of Pompei Church. Through the Santo Nino apostolate, which consists mainly of evangelization by home visitations, the FPM is able to reach out to many of our kababayans. Under the spiritual guidance of the late Fr. Bobby B. Sison, the SPG/NY expanded and the activities continued to flourish.
Today we pay tribute to the founding members of the Santo Nino Prayer Groups of New York led by Gloria Parrocha and Leonora Hombrebueno-Velasquez, Minda Abunda, Thelma Dizon, Corazon Arcilla, Conchita and Ramon Laurencio, Purita Macasaet, Ellen Tibar, Arsenia Tuballa, Doree Villanueva. Aida Valdeviezo was the first host family of the Santo Nino image. Of the eleven original members, Conchita and Ramon Laurencio have remained active members of the SPG/NY – Manhattan.
We also pay tribute to all the coordinators and members that followed past and present members of the SPG/NY who continued the propagation of the Santo Nino devotion in New York.
Our annual celebration today is something that we ought to treasure with pride, because it reminds us of people who were very dear to us. It is a beautiful Filipino tradition of oneness that brings families, friends and kababayans together to renew the commitment and revive joyous memories. It is a source of unity which binds us together in a fine relationship that knows no bounds.
Happy 30th Anniversary to all the SANTO NINO DEVOTEES!