By Rachel Curry
The Misa de Gallo continues to grow in popularity within the Archdiocese of Perth, with several parishes celebrating the Filipino Catholic tradition in the lead-up to Christmas.
Translating to ‘Mass of the Rooster’, the Misa de Gallo is a novena of Masses held in the nine days before Christmas, which was originally introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish in the 16th century.
Also known as Simbang Gabi (Filipino for ‘Night Mass’), the Masses are celebrated either in the early morning before sunrise or in the evening after sunset.
The Misa De Gallo in Mirrabooka Parish, which has been running for 27 years, was recently given an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis, while the tradition was also held this past Advent in St Mary’s Cathedral and Banksia Grove Parish. It has also been held at Maida Vale and Clarkson parishes.
Banksia Grove Parish Priest, Father Vinh Dong, said more than 100 people gathered each night for the novena, which included a special prayer for hope and peace.
“Christmas gives us the opportunity for prayer and reflection and it’s great to see so many people taking the time to prepare in a special way,” he said.
A unique feature of the Misa de Gallo at Banksia Grove Parish was the ‘journey’ of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph to various families within the parish, who received the pilgrim statues into their homes for prayers and meditation.
Each night during the novena, a host family would transfer the statues to another family.
One of the distinctive features of Mary’s statue was that she had a very noticeable pregnancy bump that vividly portrayed her divine maternity.
Parishioners remarked that, for some of them, this was the first time they had seen a statue of her as a pregnant woman, which provided a different perspective in their Advent devotions.
Adding to the community spirit of the Misa De Gallo, a hearty supper was provided by parishioners each night, which contributed to a family-friendly and lively atmosphere.
Given the novena’s success, Fr Dong said they would probably start earlier next Advent and allow families to keep the Holy Family for one week instead of one night.
He also put out a call for contributions to the recently established parish building project.
“While the community spirit is strong and flourishing here at Banksia Grove Parish, we still need to do a lot of work to fundraise for the new church building. Hopefully next Christmas we’ll have the foundations laid providing we raise enough funds,” he said.
To donate to the Banksia Grove Parish Building Fund, contact 0422 422 773.