Despite being far from home, many Filipino Catholics in Paris, France, and in Dubai, United Arab Emirates still attended the first day of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo celebrated in their areas.
In Paris, the Mass was held at the Saint Bernadette Church with Msgr. Donvito Pavilando of the Philippine Chaplaincy in France as the celebrant. The Mass was held in coordination with the Philippine Embassy.
According to Pavilando, the message of this year's Simbang Gabi is the protection of migrants worldwide, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who have to leave their families in the Philippines in their quest for the good life.
He emphasized in his sermon that migrants should be welcomed regardless of gender and nationality.
And just like the Philippines, those who attended the Mass feasted on known Filipino delicacies afterward, among them nilagang mais, kakanin and arroz caldo to combat the cold weather there.
In Dubai, the Mass was held at St. Mary Catholic Church and was attended by a huge crowd of Filipinos, including Philippine Consulate and labor officials and their families.
By Rev. Fr. Chito Bartolo's estimate, the crowd reached 20,000 people, which he said was higher than last year's attendance.
In his sermon, Bartolo tackled unity among Filipinos.
The event was also marked by the lighting of the giant Christmas tree while a choir sang Christmas carols in the background.
Simbang Gabi, or Dawn Mass, is a nine-day novena held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prior to Christmas Day. It starts on December 16 with the 4 a.m. Mass and culminates with the Misa de Gallo on Christmas Eve. —KBK, GMA News