Boholanos flock to churches at start of Simbang Gabi
TAGBILARAN CITY — Despite the recent call of President Rodrigo Duterte for Catholics not to attend Mass, many of them filled churches in the predominantly Catholic province of Bohol for the first of the nine-day Simbang Gabi, or Misa de Gallo, on Sunday.
Parishioners arrived early at the St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral in this city for the first Misa de Gallo at 4:30 a.m.
Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy said he was happy young people were going to church.
At least 2,000 parishioners, mostly young, attended the Mass. Others had to stay outside the church to hear the mass.
“Pinagga sila sa Ginoo. Pinangga sila sa Simbahan. Matagaan og kahigayunan nga ilang kusog ug talento magamit kang Kristo diha sa iyang Simbahan,” he said.
[God loves them. The Church loves them. They will be given a chance to use their strength and talents for Christ in His Church. ]
According to Uy, 2019 has been declared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as the Year of the Youth.
“Our young people don’t need a Church which is judgmental. They don’t want a judgmental church. What they want is a church which is willing to accompany them to their way to God,” Uy said.
He also challenged parishioners to affirm their faith in Christ.
“We are challenged to share what we have to others,” he said. “Dili ta mamintaha. Dili ta manikas. Dili ta mangurakot.”
[We should not take advantage of others. We should not cheat. We should not steal.”
Many parishioners wish to finish the nine-day masses either with a wish or special intention to ask.
“Whatever goal you have, I think that is the key. Whatever goal you have in the first Mass, it is the key,” Wincesa Araoarao, a resident of Graham Avenue, said.
Others said it was a thanksgiving of life.
“It is about thanksgiving and looking back to the blessings that we have in 2018, as well as looking forward to what we become of us in 2019,” said Fiel Gabin.
After the Mass, seminarians from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary rendered Christmas songs for the parishioners. /atm
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