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12/21/2016
Bishop O'Connell celebrates Mass for Simbang Gabi, 600-Year Philippine religious tradition
Celebrating Faith and Culture -- Young parishioners from St. Charles Borromeo Parish participate in the entrance procession for the Mass for Simbang Gabi that was celebrated by Bishop O'Connell Dec. 11. Joe Moore photos
Celebrating Faith and Culture -- Young parishioners from St. Charles Borromeo Parish participate in the entrance procession for the Mass for Simbang Gabi that was celebrated by Bishop O'Connell Dec. 11. Joe Moore photos
Source and Summit -- Bishop O'Connell celebrates Mass for the Simbang Gabi observance in St. Charles Borromeo Church, Cinnaminson.
Source and Summit -- Bishop O'Connell celebrates Mass for the Simbang Gabi observance in St. Charles Borromeo Church, Cinnaminson.

By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated the ninth and last Mass of the Simbang Gabi, a long-treasured Filipino Christmas tradition, in St. Charles Borromeo, Cinnaminson, Dec. 11. This was the first time in nine years the parish, which has a large Filipino population, has held the novena of Masses in honor of the Blessed Mother at 5 p.m. in the afternoon rather than at the original “dawn Mass” time of 5:30 in the morning.

To see photo gallery on this story, click here.

“It certainly helped increase attendance,” said Father Daniel Kirk, recently-appointed pastor of the parish.

The Mass, which was celebrated on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, began with the parish Filipino Choir singing joyously as nine “little angels” carrying large, colorful paper stars and a white paper lantern on long sticks, processed down the center aisle, then planting the stars before the sanctuary. In front of the altar, sat a tall, multi-colored ceramic rooster, symbolic of when, at the first sound of dawn and the crowing of the rooster, the entire family would get up and walk to the nearest parish church for Mass. Also during this time, colorful lanterns are hung in every door, window, tree branch, and street corner.

The liturgical significance of Simbang Gabi  emanates from the Season of Advent, a time of spiritual preparation and purification so that one can be worthy of the coming of the Christ Child. Simbang Gabi traditionally starts every Dec. 16 and is one of the longest and most important religious celebrations in the Philippines, lasting more than 600 years. Catholic churches across the Philippines celebrate the nine Masses outdoors in order to accommodate the faithful.

Filipino immigrants brought this unique tradition with them to the United States where its observance continues to grow significantly, especially in New Jersey.

More to follow…



Related Stories:
• Beloved Filipino religious tradition flourishes in Diocese




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