Simbang gabi tradition pushes through despite Yolanda
by FFE PH News Staff
Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas said the 9-day dawn mass tradition in preparation for Christmas will still be celebrated ‘With or without roof.
‘We can still worship because the Church is not just a building. The Church is the people.’
The archbishop, who is also head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), called on devotees to attend Simbang Gabi despite the tragedy left by the typhoon. He added ‘If the people gathered under the clear skies, we can still call it the Church. What is important at this time is the people.
‘You cannot say that you have no church to go to because God is always in your heart every time you stop and pray and become aware that God is in you.
‘God does not have office hours nor has He a building where you have to meet him. You can talk and meet God everywhere.’
A number of the churches damaged by the typhoon were some of the oldest churches in the country, including the Church of the Immaculate Concepcion in Guiuan, Samar.
Many residents of the areas most affected by the typhoon have lost all their properties and some of their families. But many still hold on to hope and look forward to the dawn masses. In Tacloban City, new mother Joan Oseñares said she will be attending the morning mass at the Sto Niño Parish Church. Even though her home was swept away by the storm surge, she said she vowed to complete the 9-day mass as a way of thanks because she survived.
Joan has also been keeping the tradition of attending all 9 masses every year because she wishes for her siblings to return home. They are all now living in Metro Manila. ‘I was just a little girl when they left. I don’t remember their faces anymore. I wish they would come home soon.’
Many residents are also learning to move on as they struggle with what they lost. Dennis Capaycapay’s daughter Denise Mae celebrated her birthday on Sunday. They didn’t have cake, but he and his wife lit a candle and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to their child.
Dennis said ‘We have no money, no belongings and our Christmas might not be merry, but we will move on.’