The Simbang Gabi is back!

The Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. Flickr photo by Noel Y. C.

The Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. Flickr photo by Noel Y. C.

The announcement was made by the Philippine Consulate in a statement issued September 10th. On September 16th there will be a community meeting to finalize the details of reviving the Filipino tradition of attending nine consecutive evening masses leading up to Christmas.

In a statement the consulate said the Simbang Gabi will be held at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center from December 4 to 12 at 6:45 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“The Filipino community in New York is thankful to His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York for his decision to resume the Simbang Gabi this year and every year thereafter at the Philippine Center,” said the statement.

Community leader and Simbang Gabi organizer Vivian Talambiras Cruz said she is so happy that the midnight masses are back.

“Talks have been ongoing,” she told The FilAm. “We fought hard for it.”

In 2011, the Archdiocese of New York made known its objection to the holding of Simbang Gabi at the consulate building on Fifth Avenue, a tradition that has been observed for 25 years by Filipinos in the New York Tri-State.

“A mass can only be carried out in a consecrated location and thus, the archdiocese does not approve of having mass celebration performed outside of a sacred worship space,” the archdiocese told The FilAm in a prepared statement. “In other words, the mass celebration must be performed in a church.”

All masses must be held in a “sacred worship place” as provided for in the canon law, which is a body of laws emanating from the Vatican, Fr. Lorenzo Ato, a spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Dolan, explained to The FilAm.

For two years, there was no Simbang Gabi at the Philippine Center. Instead, the community participated in a Panunuluyan, a religious dramatization of the First Family looking for a place to rest for Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is not the equivalent of the Holy Mass.

“I am so happy,” said Talambiras-Cruz of the decision of the archdiocese to relent and bring back the midnight masses. “You cannot take the Simbang Gabi away from us.”

The consulate is inviting community associations to participate as sponsors for each evening’s Holy Mass. Interested sponsors may wish to contact Ave Pimo at 917-536-2789 , Vivian Talambiras-Cruz at 973-960-0669 or Olive Osias-Magpile of the Philippine Consulate, Cultural Section at 212-819-9655 for more details.

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