THOUSANDS of Filipino Americans flocked to the Our Lady of the Angels church in downtown Los Angeles on Friday (December 15) for the opening of the nine-day traditional Simbang Gabi (now on its 14th year in LA).
A parade of Parol (Christmas lanterns) started the celebration. Dozens of parol were carried by ministers from different parishes of the pastoral regions of Santa Barbara, San Fernando, San Gabriel and San Pedro. Representatives from the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, business and civic organizations also joined the parade of parol.
Devotees dressed in colorful traditional Filipino costume danced ahead of the parade inside the cathedral.
The Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles organized the event under the theme: “Jesus, make us generous dispensers of your divine mercy.
LA Archbishop Jose H. Gomez officiated the Mass.
Father Albert Avenido, head of the LA Filipino Ministry, said Simbang Gabi is part of the Filipino’s rich cultural heritage. The ministry, Avenido added, consider it as service to the faithfuls who anticipate Christmas. Simbang Gabi is one of the traditions that strengthens the Filipino American families and brings peace and unity to the community.