| Filipinos celebrate Simbang Gabi
Simbang Gabi (evening Mass) traces its origin to Mexico when, in 1587, an evening Christmas Mass was held outdoors to accommodate the huge number of people.
A century later, missionaries brought it to the Philippines, where it was expanded into a novena of nine consecutive Masses before Christmas as a way of teaching the natives about the birth of the Messiah. It is among the oldest traditions in the Philippines.
Celebrating the Masses before dawn allowed the farmers, mostly men, to come to church with their families and start the day with worship before they go off to their fields.
Filipino immigrants bring the tradition with them as they move to, or work in, foreign countries. In the Diocese of Oakland, various parishes are celebrating Simbang Gabi.
• The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland, will host a kick-off celebration for Simbang Gabi with Mass at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 followed by a reception in the event center.
• All Saints Church, 22824 Second St., Hayward, Mass: 6 a.m. Dec. 15-23, light breakfast follows each morning Mass, additional Simbang Gabi Mass at 11 p.m. Dec. 21, with a Posada celebration by the Latino community right after Mass. Call Thelma Desiderio-Valera at 510-914-4076.
• Holy Spirit, 37588 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, Mass: 5:30 a.m. Dec. 16-24, breakfast and fellowship will follow. Dial 510-745-7776 for more information.
• Immaculate Heart of Mary, 500 Fairview Ave., Brentwood, Mass with choir, various celebrants: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, breakfast follows, 925-634-4154.
• Our Lady of Guadalupe, 40382 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, Mass: 6 a.m. Dec. 16-24, followed by reception, Corrie Budnik, 510-656-5149 or the office, 510-657-4043.
• St. Anthony Church, 971 O'Hara Ave., Oakley, Mass: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, presiders, Revs. Olman Solis and Kenneth Sales, reception follows in the hall, Emma Arcayena, firstname.lastname@example.org, 925-325-5249 or the church office, 925-625-2048.
• St. Barnabas, 1427 Sixth St., Alameda, Mass: 8 a.m. Dec. 16, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17-21, 4:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 8 a.m. Dec. 23, 7 a.m. Dec. 24, receptions after Mass in the parish hall on Dec. 16, 19, 22 and 24, Femy Visperas, 510-604-8477.
• St. Edward, 5788 Thornton Ave., Newark, Mass: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, celebrant: Rev. Jeffrey R. Keyes, CPPS, Ann Estoesta, 510-329-0521.
• St. Francis of Assisi, 860 Oak Grove St., Concord, Mass: 5:30 a.m. Dec. 16-24, breakfast after each Mass Dec. 16-22 in the John Paul II Center and in the Family Center (gym) Dec. 23 and 24. Hospitality is sponsored by the Fil-Am Groups of: St. Bonaventure, St. Agnes, St. Catherine of Siena, Christ the King, St. Francis of Assisi and Corpus Christi Cursillo Team. Contacts: Armando and Ritzi Ramos, 925-293-4073 or 925-957-9080, and Tony Lansang, 925-933-1701. Deaneries 10 and 11 unite to celebrate Simbang Gabi at St. Francis of Assisi.
• St. Ignatius of Antioch, 3351 Contra Loma Blvd., Antioch, Mass: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, followed by traditional Filipino breakfast in the parish hall, presider and homilist, Rev. Ronan Rances, 925-778-0768.
• St. Isidore, 440 La Gonda Way, Danville, a "Misa de Gallo" will be at 6 a.m. Dec. 15 followed by a breakfast, 925-837-2122.
• St. James the Apostle, 34700 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, Mass: 5:30 a.m. Dec. 16-24, celebrant: Rev. Antony Vazhappilly, there will be a different choir each day and fellowship after each Mass, Solita Cruz, 510-566-8181.
• St. Joachim, 21250 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward, Mass, 5:30 a.m. Dec. 16-24, followed by breakfast in the gym, Frances, FSEDAYAO@yahoo.com, 510-305-2277 or Lisa, email@example.com, or May, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-264-0702.
• St. Joan of Arc, 2601 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, theme for 2012: "Let the Spirit of Christmas Shine Upon Us," Mass: 7 p.m. Dec. 16-23, 5:30 a.m. Dec. 24, celebrant: Rev. Ian Mendoza, chairperson: Marietta Ocampo, 925-525-6821.
• St. John the Baptist, 11150 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, Mass: 5 p.m. Dec. 15, 6 p.m. Dec. 16, 7 p.m. Dec. 17-21, 5 p.m. Dec. 22, 6 p.m. Dec. 23, receptions follow the Masses in the Father John Maxwell Conference Room. Tom Kennedy or Mary Asuncion, 510-232-5659.
• St. Joseph, 837 Tennent Ave., Pinole, Mass: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, refreshments after Mass, celebrants: priests of the parish, children's pageant Dec. 24, Aida Torres, 510-724-6409.
• St. Joseph/Old Mission San Jose, 43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont, one Mass: 6 a.m. Dec. 22, reception follows, Mike Roy, 510-303-6280 or Mikeroy608@comcast.net.
• St. Leander, 550 W. Estudillo Ave., San Leandro, Mass: 7 a.m. Dec. 17-21, 8 a.m. Dec. 22, 5:30 a.m. Dec. 23 and 7 a.m. Dec. 24, 510-895-5631.
• St. Patrick, 825 Seventh St., Rodeo, Masses: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, refreshments after Mass, celebrants: Revs. Larry Young and Rafal Duda, 510-799-4406.
• St. Philip Neri-St. Albert the Great Parish, Masses: 5 a.m. Dec. 16-24, St. Albert the Great Church, 1022 Holly St., Alameda, followed by a traditional Filipino breakfast at the parish hall, 510-373-5200.