Simbang Gabi. For many Filipino Catholics, the words are a reminder of their home, their traditions and their culture. But most importantly, Simbang Gabi is a call to evangelize.

“First and foremost, it’s a way of encouraging devotion and bringing people to the Church,” said Rev. Nilo Macapinlac, a Filipino priest and pastor to St. Stephen’s Parish in the central Alberta community of Olds.  “We bring that anticipation of Christ’s birth into the present moment and into the next generation.”

Simbang Gabi (“Night Mass” in English) is a series of nine masses celebrated by Filipino Catholics across the world, from Dec. 15 to 23. This year Pope Francis will make history and celebrate a Simbang Gabi Mass on Dec. 15 at St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the first time a pontiff will publicly celebrate the Filipino tradition.

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