Diocesan Catholics Again Join in Filipino Advent Tradition
Patricia SzPekowski, Observer Correspondent
December 23, 2021
HUNTLEY—The symbolic stars of Bethlehem shone brightly as the Filipino Simbang Gabi Advent Novena Masses resumed after a two-year hiatus in the Fox Valley with 10 Masses, Dec. 15-23. 
Simbang Gabi (pronounced Sim BAHNG guh bee) is the Filipino way of accompanying the Blessed Mother as she awaits the birth of her son, Jesus Christ. 
The usual celebration of serving Filipino treats and the traditional popular pancit noodle dish after Masses was still on hold due to the pandemic.
Over 500 people gathered at St. Mary Parish in Huntley Dec. 18 for Bishop David Malloy’s annual celebration of a Simbang Mass. 
After the procession of Star of Bethlehem banners carried by a representative of each church hosting this year’s Masses, members of Huntley Knights of Columbus Council 11666 led the way for Bishop Malloy as he entered the church with priests from participating parishes. 
Among the priests were Father Ariel Valencia, diocesan director of the Filipino Ministry; Father Moises Apostol, spiritual director, Fox Valley Filipino-American Catholic Ministry; and Father Christopher DiTomo, pastor at St. Mary, Huntley. 
In his homily, Bishop Malloy said, “In this time of much anger, be calm and strengthen your faith and come to Jesus through Mary. There are many lessons we can learn from advent and Christmas. During this Simbang Gabi, you gather and honor the timeless tradition and practice in honoring the birth of Christ.”
Mass ended with a song by the Sambayanihan choir entitled “We Give Our Yes,” a tribute to this year’s celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. 
At the end of Mass, Sam Lamarca, coordinator of St. Mary Huntley’s Filipino-American ministry, thanked Bishop Malloy and all who attended Mass. He asked for prayers for the Filipino people who just endured another devastating typhoon in the Philippines. 
On Dec. 16, Father John McNamara, pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Dundee, celebrated the second Simbang Gabi Mass for nearly 200 people.  The St. Thomas More Filipino Choir led singing English and Tagalog Christmas hymns.
In the homily at that Mass, Father Valencia warned not to be deceived by the temptations of the world and false celebrity endorsements. “Search the truth; destroy your pride; and keep good company to plant a good seed and grow with God,” he said.
Eleonore Tiu, a member of St. Thomas More Parish, Elgin, said she was happy to attend the Simbang Gabi Mass in West Dundee. 
“I’m sorry that we can’t have our traditional pancit food tonight,” she said. “But, after all, this is really about the Mass.”
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