CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Christmas vigil Mass under the parols

HONG KONG (SE): Around 3,000 people attended the Misa de Aguinaldo (The Mass of the Gift) held in a festive mood in the night air at Chater Garden, Admiralty on Christmas Eve.
 
The Mass, which started at 10.30pm, was celebrated by Father Jerry Perocho together with Father Efren Ojeda and Filipino chaplain, Father Jay Flandez.
 
It was celebrated in a lively and joyful atmosphere set by a succession of performances by community choirs and well-known singers in a programme which started at 7.30pm.
 
Under the light of Philippine Christmas lanterns or parols on both sides of the altar, Father Perocho said in his homily that Jesus is light and the Good News we need to proclaim is that the true light has come to us as our Saviour. During this Mass, Father Perocho said the coming of Jesus is a wonderful gift from God because Jesus is the only son of God, who came humbly and was born in a lowly manger to save us from sin.
 
In his Christmas message, which was broadcast after communion, the bishop of Hong Kong, Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, said the Holy Family was a migrant family. He urged people to treat migrants with respect and share their God-given resources with the less privileged.
 
The Philippine deputy consul general, Germinia V. Aguilar-Usudan, also offered her Christmas greetings on behalf of the staff at the consulate and called for unity in the Filipino community in Hong Kong.
 
Organised by the Chaplaincy for Filipinos in Hong Kong, the Philippine Consulate General to Hong Kong, the Foundation for Family and Life, Couples for Christ, Pinoy Tayo Saanman and Metro Plus 1044 Radio, the celebration, held annually since 2000, has become a popular way for Filipinos in the city to mark Christmas.
 
Mitch Dela Cruz, one of the volunteers with the Filipino chaplaincy who helped to get the parols ready before the Mass, said she loved them as they are the most iconic symbols of Christmas in the Philippines. She said her heart rejoiced in the Mass because of the birth of Jesus Christ and she felt loved as her friends at the Mass exchanged Christmas wishes with her.
 
Gemma Adan Solomon said she was happy to attend the Mass that night as she felt like she was celebrating Christmas in the Philippines. She was also touched by the songs sung by the El Shaddai Choir which brings the excitement of Christmas to the congregation every year.
 
The Misa de Aguinaldo, is traditionally celebrated in the Philippines between 10.00pm and midnight, and the parols are regarded as symbols beckoning people to come and adore the newborn Saviour.
 
Like the pre-Christmas novena, the Simbang Gabi, the Mass of the Gift is a custom brought to the Philippines from Mexico around 400 years ago by Spanish friars, but has become an integral part of any Philippine celebration.
 
Two Masses were held later on Christmas Day at Chater Garden at 8.00am and 9.30am.

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