THE absence of the Black Nazarene is expected to create disinterest among devotees in joining the inaugural “Walk of Faith,” which is set in the early hours of Sunday, January 8, 2023.

In an interview, Quiapo Church Attached Priest Fr Earl Valdez said they will not be surprised if there will be devotees who will opt to skip the event that is being held in place of the traditional grand procession of the image of the black Christ.

“For sure, devotees will direct themselves to the other activities at hand. There will be those who will choose not to join the ‘Walk of Faith’,” said Valdez.

“There will be those who will skip the activity, probably because it is not the actual feast day or it is not what they are used to,” he added.

Nevertheless, Valdez said they believe that the first-ever “Walk of Faith” will still be able to gather close to a million devotees.

“It may not be that many but we are still expecting the maximum… Probably less than a million,” said Valdez.

For those who will join the procession, Feast of the Black Nazarene 2023 Adviser Alex Irasga believes they should take it as a challenge to prove that they are not simply “fanatics.”

“Show everyone that you are true devotees, that you are not fanatics. This is a challenge. Let’s take it as a challenge for us to express our faith and show that the Catholic faith is really strong,” said Irasga.

“We want to hold a procession that is orderly, peaceful, and has a high level of piety in order to help strengthen our devotion to the Black Nazarene,” he added.

The “Walk of Faith” is a religious procession featuring songs and prayers that is set to be held by the Quiapo Church for the first time, and will not involve the centuries-old image of Christ.

It replaces the traditional “Traslacion,” which features the Black Nazarene image and gathers millions of barefoot devotees.

According to Irasga, the procession is penciled to start at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand or immediately after the midnight Mass.

Based on the established route, from the Quirino Grandstand, it will turn right to Katigbak, left to Padre Burgos, onto Jones Bridge, right to Dasmariñas Street, right to Sta Cruz, left to Palanca Street, left to Quezon Boulevard, right to Arlegui Street, left to Casal Street, left to Concepcion, right to Carcer, right to Hidalgo, left to Bilibid Viejo, left to Guzman, right to Hidalgo, left to Quezon Boulevard, right to Palanca, right to Villalobos, and onto Plaza Miranda.

“We estimate that the ‘Walk of Faith’ will run for around two hours. It is unlike what we have before that it takes us almost an entire day,” said Irasga.

It is estimated to conclude at the Quiapo Church around 4 a.m. and will be marked by the blessing of the participants by the priests. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)