St. Mary is taking Christmas celebrations to the next level with two special seasonal events filled with food, music, and worship.
St. Mary is proud to bring back the Simbang Gabi Mass and reception on December 14th at 7:30 pm, where the parish will officially kick off the nine-day diocesan event.
Simbang Gabi is a nine-day Philippine Catholic tradition that builds anticipation for the birth of Christ. Each Mass in the novena includes traditional Filipino music and decorations, such as the “parols,” or star-shaped Christmas lanterns meant to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem.
“Simbang Gabi joyfully prepares us for nine days through the gift of Eucharist!” says Deacon Luciano Coson, who helps coordinate the event throughout the diocese. “The fellowship that follows allows us to connect with family and friends and the Church at large to gather, break bread and remember the goodness of the Lord and the beauty of community life!”
Although Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition, it’s open to all to attend. “It’s definitely not for Filipinos only!” says Fr. Dindo Billote, pastor of St. Mary Mokena. “The mass is in English with Filipino and English music! There will be wonderful food and a reception after in the parish hall open to all parishioners too. There will be lots of Filipino food and desserts! We’ll be featuring Filipino pancit noodles and other traditional dishes!” Fr. Dindo emphasized that this year’s Simbang Gabi will be more elaborate than the one four years ago and will feature Filipino cultural dances at the reception.
The Mass and reception are free and open to the public.
Christmas Concert & Wine
The festivities continue two days after Simbang Gabi. On December 16th at 7 pm in the Church Hall, St. Mary will hold a Christmas concert with wine and desserts included in a $35 ticket price. All St. Mary choirs—Adult, Children’s, and Chamber—will perform a mix of classic Christmas tunes.
Laura Zesso, Assistant Director of Sacred Music at St. Mary and organizer of the event, says the inspiration for the concert came from her madrigal performances as a student at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort. “The concert is meant to be more performative…more artistically presented,” says Zesso. “I hope to make it more cohesive and storytelling.”
Zesso plans to intersperse anecdotes about saints and the music in between songs. She is particularly excited to showcase the Children’s Choir. “We have a ton of talented kids,” she says. “People were blown away by the kid’s choir during their premiere earlier this year.”
The concert is meant to be a fundraiser to raise money for the St. Mary sacred music program and will fund music software and choir supplies, hiring professionals for special Masses, and investing in a brand new pipe organ.
“I think that every person, no matter what kind of music they enjoy, is touched by music,” says Zesso. “I think that when music is used for God’s will, it can be so moving and so powerful, especially not only in evangelization but in bringing people comfort and joy and deeper conversion or reconversion.”
Tickets for the St. Mary Christmas Concert can be purchased at https://www.stmarymokena.org/sacred-music.
For more information, contact the parish office here.