Saturday, January 9, 2010

Simbang Gabi 2009- Acknowledgements

Beloved Friends and Kababayans,

Praise and Glory to God for the wonderful celebration of Simbang Gabi both in the Westside and in the Eastside of the Portand Metro Area!
We also had a chance to attend the Saturday morning of Simbang Gabi at the Nativity of the Blessed Sacrament in Reinier, Oregon. It is the new parish of Fr. Henry Rufo where he introduced the 9 days of Simbang Gabi to his parishioners. During the fellowship we met some of his non Filipino parishioners and they were so welcoming and very entertaining. We all have something in common, they also love Filipino food. Afterwards, Fr. Henry gave us a tour of his new place. He really has a nice view; it was breathtaking, overlooking the Columbia River. We truly enjoyed our visit.

It was remarkable the weather cooperated well with us this year that several of us and our families were able to complete the 9 days of the Simbang Gabi. During the culmination of the novena at Holy Trinity we saw the cheerful spirit of our kababayans, they kept coming, and Bishop Steiner was delighted. We are truly grateful for your presence and wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated in the liturgies, provided assistance and worked hard to make our Christmas Novena Masses “Simbang Gabi” a success. Some of the priests were impressed to see several of our youth attended and participated during the liturgies. It was a heart-warming to see the twinkle in the eyes of our children, the youth and the young adults getting excited in doing their part each night. During the liturgies there were different activities presented each night, like the offering of the Nativity symbols, and the blessing of the Tree of Hope (parishioners wrote down their wishes and hopes and hang them on the Tree of Hope). One night we had a Living Rosary led by the children and the other nights several children offered Christmas symbols and the youth explained the meaning of the symbols. We also had the youth choir sing “Silent Night” and do the sign language.

We are also grateful to the Filipino Community Choir for their joyful singing of the eight Simbang Gabi by the direction of Raquel Naval and accompanied by Derick Maglalang and Ken Canedo on the piano while the St. Clare and Pinoy IT choir did it for one night by the direction of Malou Johanson. Our gratitude goes to the different Filipino organizations that hosted each night and have shared their time, talents and treasure which has exhibited our beautiful Filipino traditions.
During the fellowships, almost every night happy surprises kept popping up like the choreographed dance of the Cebuanos “Ang Pasko ay sumapit,” the IT children sang Christmas Carols mixed in Tagalog and English. On the last day, the Holy Trinity Children also sang Christmas Carols in Tagalog, Santa Claus and the children listened to the Santa’s story and participated in gift giving. The Aguman Capampangan choir sang Christmas Medley and Victor Bonifacio rendered Christmas songs while Bishop Steiner and our kababayans were eating.

We thank you for providing delicious food while your hospitality engaged our kababayans into a deeper spiritual fellowship.

The Westside Host Groups were St. Elizabeth Seton Filipino Parishioners, Damas, Legion of Mary, Couples for Christ, Our Lady of Fatima - Block Rosary, Sto Nino de Cebu Cultural Group, Philippine Nurses Association, Pinoy IT Group, St Clare Filipino Parishioners, Holy Trinity Filipino Parishioners, and Aguman Capampangan

We would like to acknowledge the following priests from different Parishes in the Archdiocese of Portland who presided during the Simbang Gabi masses in the Westside: Our retired priests, Fr. Neil Moore, Msgr. Arthur Dernbach, and Fr. John McGrann. Fr. Tony Ong, chaplain at St. Vincent Hospital, Fr. Cary Reniva of Sacred Heart Church in Medford, Fr. Maro Escano of St. Mary’s Church in Eugene, Fr. Tom Farley of St. Clare, and Fr. Dave Gutmann of Holy Trinity. We are grateful indeed to Fr. Dave Gutmann for his loving support and for allowing us the usage of the church, and the other facilities. Special gratitude goes to Bishop Kenneth Steiner, who celebrated the culmination of the Simbang Gabi and for sharing the message of “HOPE” to the Filipinos.

In the eastside, the Simbang Gabi was held at St. Therese at 7:30pm. The El Shaddai Ministry by the directions of Dondon and Yvette Gayomali sang joyfully for the 9 consecutive nights. The Servite Filipino Priest at the Grotto, Fr. Denish Ilogon presided the 8 nights while Fr. Tony Ong celebrated the last novena mass. Fr. Fred Biong from the Grotto and Fr. Roger of St. Therese were able to concelebrate. Sponsorships from surrounding parishes are Christ the King, St. Henry, Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Anne. During the culmination of the Simbang Gabi, the children excitedly carried their parols during the procession led by Ferdie and Adela Sacdalan. The potluck reception was held after the novena mass and Christmas carols were sang afterwards. The organizers of the Eastside Simbang Gabi at St. Therese led by Titay Schommer did a marvelous job.

We truly appreciate your generosity. The offertory collections from the westside and the eastside, we were able to raise funds to build houses for the poor families in the Philippines through the Gawad Kalinga Foundation. The celebrations of our preparations for the coming of our Saviour was more meaningful since this cause will bring hope to our least fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ back home.

After Christmas, the Salem Filipino Community organized the Holy Family mass at St. Vincent the Paul Church. It was also a well attended event.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas celebrations with your loved ones. We hope the New Year will bring peace, love and happiness to everyone. May God continue to bless us and our families abundantly. We encourage everyone to keep our faith ALIVE and participate in the parish life to serve and share Jesus Christ in the manger who is full of humility and love.

God bless and God loves you!
Maraming Salamat Po Sa Inyong Lahat!
Franz & Monette Mallari