December 16, 2019  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

—The nine-day celebration leading up to Christmas began with a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez—

Thousands of Filipino Catholics from throughout Southern California celebrated the beginning of Simbang Gabi, one of the oldest Filipino Christmas traditions, with a special Mass this evening at the  Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Archbishop José H. Gomez presided at the liturgy presented by the Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“I pray that these coming days will be a beautiful time for your families to draw closer and to renew your love for one another in Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Gomez. “Above all, in this beautiful season, let’s try to make Christ’s presence felt in the hearts and lives of others. Let’s try to be a source of hope and optimism for other people.”

The Mass was preceded by the “Parade of Parols,” or lanterns, of 124 parishes from the five pastoral regions in the tri-county Archdiocese (LA, Santa Barbara and Ventura). The parade was accompanied by the San Fernando Region Inter-Parish Grand Choir, with 82 members from different parishes in San Fernando Valley. The Santa Maria Wind and Brass Ensemble also led the procession of parols, and performed festive music reminiscent of the fiesta back in the Philippines at the Cathedral’s plaza, before and after the Mass.

Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan for the San Fernando Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese delivered the homily in Tagalog and English.

“We thank all those who have contributed to the Simbang Gabi celebration now in its 30th year in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” said Bishop Aclan.

The parols, a Philippine Christmas symbol, were blessed at the end of the Mass.  In the Philippines, the parol is used to light up people’s homes and is carried by parishioners attending Simbang Gabi Mass, or “Mass before dawn.”

Following Communion, a group of Filipino priests joined on the altar to sing traditional Simbang Gabi songs. This year’s theme, “Halina’t Magdiwang sa Ating Pakikipagtagpo kay Kristo; Dahil Tayo ay Isang Katawan” (Come and Celebrate as We Encounter Christ; For We are One Body), reflects on renewal of one’s relationship with Christ, to encounter Christ as the way to remain in harmony with others, as we all form the family of God.

The Filipino tradition of Simbang Gabi dates back nearly 500 years.  It begins nine nights before Christmas Eve. During Simbang Gabi, an Advent Mass is celebrated before dawn or in the evening of each day in preparation for Christmas. For the full schedule of Simbang Gabi at 124 parishes throughout the Archdiocese click here.

The Mass livestream is available on Facebook at


The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts visit Follow us on social media at LACatholics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Video archives and footage of Masses celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez are also available.