10/12/2013: SIMBANG GABI COMMISSIONING MASS MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS NOVENA
Left Photo: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone celebrating the Simbang Gabi commissioning Mass. Right Photo: Parols from the participating parishes during the Parol Lighting Ceremony.
An array of colorful parols lit up the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption during the 6th Annual Simbang Gabi Commissioning Mass and Parol Lighting Ceremony, which was held on Friday, December 6, 2013. Bishop William Justice and twenty Filipino American priests from the various parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco participated in the Holy Mass, with San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone as the Principal Celebrant.
The Simbang Gabi Commissioning Mass signals the beginning of the simbang gabi novena masses, a well-known Filipino Catholic tradition that is anticipated by both young and old in preparation for Christmas. Thirty-three parishes in three counties within the Archdiocese of San Francisco will be holding the Simbang Gabi this year. The Commissioning Rite is a special recognition accorded to the Filipino community. Through this Rite, Parish Coordinators for the Simbang Gabi are presented to the Archbishop and are questioned about their readiness for the coming of Christ through the celebration of Simbang Gabi masses in their respective Parishes. They are also blessed by the Archbishop.
The Commissioning Rite also featured a Parol Lighting Ceremony. Each parish participating in the Simbang Gabi brought their own parols as a symbol of Christ’s light, and are instructed to bring this light into their communities. This symbolic gesture signifies the Parish’s readiness for the coming of Christ.
L-R: Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Consul Leah Rodriguez, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Mrs. Teresita Paynor, Consul Reginald Bernabe and Consul Reichel Quiñones at the 6th Annual Simbang Gabi Commissioning Mass and Parol Lighting Ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ernesto Cuello)
The 6th Annual Simbang Gabi Commissioning Mass and Parol Lighting Ceremony was organized by the Filipino Ministry Consultative Board (FMCB). This solemn and symbolic celebration was reflective of the deep-rooted Christmas tradition in the Philippines. Despite cultural and demographic shifts, the Simbang Gabi has been a positive impact on the Roman Catholic Church in the Bay Area.