DE PERE — The Filipino-American community of Northeast Wisconsin held its first Misang Pilipino sa Pasko (Christmas Filipino Mass) at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day at St. Francis Xavier Church. The Mass was concelebrated by three Missionaries of Faith priests from the Philippines: Frs. Judah Pigon, Ric Basquinez and Rene Balbero. All three are currently serving the Diocese of Green Bay.
Approximately 70 people attended the Mass, which was conducted in Tagalog (the Philippines’ national language). The majority of the attendees had not participated in a Christmas Filipino Mass for many years.
The local Filipino choir — Prescilla Baumgart, Christina Casis, Lorenzo Cruz, Marlon Hermitanio, Rose Jaucian, Imelda Manibog and guitarist Manny Lopez — performed customary Filipino liturgical songs. The liturgy was reminiscent of how Christmas Mass is celebrated in the Philippines.
Christmas is the most important day of the year in the lives of Filipinos.
“This is a day when we renew our vow and faith in God,” said Hermitanio. “This is a day when we rekindle and strengthen our bond with our families and friends. This is a day when everybody is thankful and hopeful in the midst of hardship and suffering. This is a day when every family makes good delicacies in honor of Jesus Christ.”
The playing of the song “The Prayer” — performed by the Loboc Children Choir of Bohol and several professional Filipino singers as a tribute to those in the Philippines whose livelihood was affected by typhoon Haiyan — preceded Mass. A reception consisting of finger foods (pika pika) and fellowship followed the liturgy.
Rosario Belgado and Marlon Hermitanio contributed to this story.