In the Filipino Catholic tradition, the nine-day Novena of Masses known as Simbang Gabi spiritually prepares one for the celebration of Christmas, a tradition with deep roots in the country’s religious culture beginning after midnight Dec. 15 and running through Dec. 24.
Also known as “night worship,” the name comes from gathering for the celebration of the Eucharist in the pre-dawn hours on each of the nine days before Christmas. On the last day of the Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, the service is called Misa de Gallo, Spanish for “Rooster’s Mass.” Churches throughout the country will ring their bells anywhere between 3 and 5:30 a.m. This pre-Christmas observance calls dedication and discipline to rise early and still fulfill all of one’s daily duties.
The following Simbang Gabi Masses have been scheduled:
Dec. 2, 7 p.m. • St. Charles Borromeo Church, 2500 Branch Pike, Cinnaminson, 609-829-3322
Dec. 15, 7 p.m. • Incarnation-St. James Church, 1545 Pennington Road, Ewing, 609-882-2860
Dec. 16, 7 p.m. • St. Raphael Church, 3500 South Broad St., Hamilton, 609-585-7049
Dec. 17, 7 p.m. • St. Anthony of Padua Church, 251 Franklin St., Hightstown, 609-448-0141
Dec. 18, 7 p.m. • St. David the King Church, 1 New Village Road, Princeton Junction, 609-275-7111
Dec. 19, 7 p.m. • St. Gregory the Great Church, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, 609-587-4877
Dec. 21, 7 p.m. • St. Vincent De Paul Church, 555 Yardville-Allentown Road, Yardville, 609-585-6470
Dec. 22, 7 p.m. • St. Paul Church, 214 Nassau St., Princeton, 609-924-1743
Dec. 23, 7 p.m. • St. Ann Church, 1253 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, 609-882-6491.
In Monmouth County, the following parishes invites all to the nine-day Simbang Gabi Masses:
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., St. Joseph, 376 Maple Place, Keyport
Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., St. Mary of the Assumption, 46 Richmond Ave., Deal
Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., St. Clement, 172 Freneau Ave., Matawan
Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m., St. James, 94 Broad St., Red Bank
Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., St. Catherine of Siena, 31 Asbury Rd., Farmingdale
Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., St. Benedict, 156 Bethany Rd., Holmdel
Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m., St. Michael, 800 Ocean Ave., West End
Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m., Holy Innocents, 3455 West Bangs Ave., Neptune
Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m., St. Dorothea, 240 Broad St., Eatontown
On the final night of Simbang Gabi, there will be a celebration in the reception hall of St. Dorothea Parish. Mass goers are asked to arrive to the church by 7 p.m. for recitation of the Rosary.
Nine Ocean County parishes have come together and planned to observe Simbang Gabi. Following is the list of parishes with information on times and dates of Masses.
Dec. 9, 7 p.m. St. Justin the Martyr, 975 Fischer Blvd., Toms River. Celebrant Father Mark Kreder, pastor.
Dec. 10, 7 p.m., St. Luke, 1674 Old Freehold Rd., Toms River. Celebrant Father Robert Grodnicki, pastor.
Dec. 11, 7 p.m., St. John, 619 Chestnut Ave., Lakehurst. Celebrant Father Nestor Chavenia, parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat.
Dec. 12, 7 p.m., St. Aloysius, 935 Bennetts Mills Rd., Jackson. Celebrant Father Sheldon Amasa, parochial vicar.
Dec. 13, 7 p.m., St. Joseph, 685 Hooper Ave., Toms River. Celebrant Father Cesar Anson, parochial vicar.
Dec. 14, 7 p.m., St. Barnabas, 33 Woodland Rd., Bayville. Celebrant Father Peter James R. Alindogan, pastor of St. Jerome Parish, West Long Branch, and St. Mary, Deal, and diocesan director of missions.
Dec. 15, 7 p.m., St. Monica, 679 W. Veterans Highway, Jackson. Celebrant Father Alex Enriquez, parish administrator.
Dec. 16, 6 p.m. St. Mary of the Pines Church, 100 Bishop’s Lane, Manahawkin. Celebrant is Bishop Bernadito C. Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
Dec. 17, 4:30 p.m. St. Maximilian Kolbe, 130 St. Maximilian Kolbe Lane Toms River. Celebrant is Father Virgilio Tolentino. A Christmas party will follow.
For more information, contact Wilhelmina Abela-Bamba at 732-963-7371 or Marlene Legaspi at 732-239-1555.