Simbang Gabi is a much-celebrated Filipino Christmas tradition that motivates hundreds of Catholics around the world to attend mass nine days in a row, a renowned novena that prepares us for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Simbang Gabi, which translates to “evening mass”, is a 9-day novena that traditionally occurs in the early morning. In the Philippines when this tradition started more than 400 years ago, masses were held at around 4 AM to accommodate farmers who had to rise early (to avoid the midday heat) and wanted to attend mass before the day’s work began. Getting up this early in the United States has become a kind of sacrifice, especially because of the cold temperatures. Though this tradition came from the Philippines, many attendees of Simbang Gabi are not of the Filipino heritage. Some cite that consistent attendance helps them prepare for Christmas in a spiritual way.
At St. John’s, we celebrate Simbang Gabi at night, beginning the night of December 15. Masses continue every night until December 23. Each mass is followed by a fellowship at Pavalkis Hall, where church-goers can enjoy good food and spend time with other St. John’s parishioners. Many parishioners complete the entire novena year after year, becoming more prayerful while enjoying great company.
This year’s Simbang Gabi schedule (every mass is at 7 PM):
- December 15 (Thursday) – Msgr. Fran Cilia
- December 16 (Friday) – Fr. Ritche Bueza
- December 17 (Saturday) – Fr. Eddie Obero
- December 18 (Sunday) – Fr. Tito Cartagenas
- December 19 (Monday) – Fr. Dan Urcia
- December 20 (Tuesday) – Bishop Patrick J. McGrath
- December 21 (Wednesday) – Fr. Andy Ligot
- December 22 (Thursday) – Fr. Jeff Fernandez
- December 23 (Friday) – Msgr. Willie Manrique