Poor Clare Monastery First Stop for Rockford Area Simbang Gabi Observances
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
December 19, 2019
ROCKFORD—Filipino-American Catholics in the Rockford area gathered at the Corpus Christi Monastery of the Poor Clares at 6:30 p.m.Dec. 15 for the first Simbang Gabi novena celebration of the 2019 Advent season. 
The annual celebration of nine evening Masses leading up to Christmas is an important devotional practice in the Filipino culture followed in Rockford area and Fox Valley parishes in the Rockford Diocese.
Father Adrian Ladines presided at the Mass and explained the tradition. 
“Simbang Gabi is a time of thanksgiving and preparation leading up to Christmas,” he said. “The nine days are actually a symbol of sharing, of love and showing acts of kindness.”
In his homily, Father Ladines encouraged those gathered to live the Gospel values of mercy and compassion while sharing the message of Christ with others. 
“The Gospel must be seen in our actions. Then our good deeds will be remembered,” he said. “This is the time to count our blessings instead of focusing on our worries.”
At each of the Simbang Gabi Masses, an intricate star decoration called a ‘parol’ is part of the opening procession. Ladines said the star is a “symbol of hope and anticipation for the birth of Jesus.” 
Gifts of money, food and wrapped presents are also brought to the altar during the offertory procession to symbolize the sacrifices of the congregation.
Remaining Simbang Gabi Advent celebrations in the Rockford Diocese
Fox Valley, 7 p.m.
Dec. 20: St. John Neumann, 2900 E. Main St., St. Charles
Dec. 20: Christ the Teacher, 512 Normal Road, DeKalb
Dec. 21: St. Patrick Church, 6N491 Crane Road, St. Charles
Dec. 22: St. Mary Church, 312 Lincoln Ave ., Woodstock
Dec. 23: St. Laurence, 225 Jewett St., Elgin
Info: hosting parishes or https://www.facebook.com/
Rockford area, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: St. Rita, 6254 Valley Knoll Dr.,  Rockford
Dec. 21: Holy Family, 4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford
Dec. 22: St. Rita, 6254 Valley Knoll Dr.,  Rockford
Dec. 23: St. Bridget, 600 Clifford Ave., Loves Park 
Info: hosting parishes or https://www.facebook.com/grfacc