Mid-Week Message from Fr. Gerard - December 16, 2020

Confessions are Saturday 3 – 3:45 P.M. in the Garden of the School of Religious Education

Weekend Masses: SA 4:00 P.M., SU 8:00 A.M., SU 10 A.M.


Covid-19 reminder from the Archdiocese: Even outdoors, parishioners must wear face coverings and practice social distancing (6 feet apart, unless they are family members who live together in the same house). If you participate in a multi-household gathering, out of consideration for others in the parish, please attend virtual Mass.


Greetings my good friends,


Hope you are all well as we journey closer to the Birthday of Jesus. Let us continue to focus on this most beautiful season. If you are reading your Advent book every day, it gives us a new insight into Who God is in our lives.


I decided a while back that the Stearns side of the rectory was in need of Christmas lights to brighten up the darkness. This year we also ordered a nativity banner which is placed on the Stearns side -- former entrance to the rectory. It is a beautiful testament to the manger in Bethlehem and a sign to all who pass by this Christmas Season.


Last Saturday we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the 4 P.M. Vigil Mass. Thanks to Matilda Rico, Chair, and the committee for a wonderful celebration, the beautiful decorations, the flower arrangements, the tilma, and the beautiful new statue of Our Lady. Thank you all so much. Special thanks to our seminarian Justin Ordoveza for his wonderful reflection on the scriptures and explanation of the origin of this feast day. Everyone enjoyed this beautiful celebration as we honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. May she always protect us from all harm.


This coming weekend at the 4 P.M. Vigil Mass we celebrate Simbang Gabi, a Filipino tradition of Mass and celebration in anticipation of the Christ Child’s birth. Please read its historical account below.

Years ago, I received a gift of a parol, the traditional Christmas light for the Filipinos; it’s presently lighting the rectory window on Stearns.


All Christmas lights signal one thing -- Christ, the Light of the World. Let us all share that Light with whomever we encounter in these most sacred days.


On a lighter note, my Christmas cake is getting ready for its first icing of marzipan. I unwrapped the cake last night and gave it a little drink of Irish Whiskey; it looked very happy! Now for the icing in the next few days.


As we approach the Fourth Sunday of Advent and encounter Mary, let us all be aware of how humble she was and why we should seek humility in our lives as well.


If you wish to place a poinsettia in honor of a loved one this Christmas, please bring it to the Chapel this weekend.


God bless you all; those who attend Mass in person or on the website, love to you all.



Fr. Gerard


Please remember in your prayers Grace Guerra.


Christmas Outreach: So many are struggling this Christmas Season since many are unemployed due to COVID. We might think, "But what can I do?"  All of us together are better than any one of us alone. This year we have an opportunity to make a child's eyes light up on Christmas. Please drop off an unwrapped toy for children ages 4-10 when you attend Mass this weekend. Catholic Charities tells us that they have many more children they are trying to provide for this year. (If toys require batteries, please include them.) If you prefer to make a monetary donation, checks may be made payable to Catholic Charities, 123 E. 14th Street, Long Beach, CA 90813, or you may make a one-time donation through Faith Direct with Catholic Charities listed in the memo section.


The Filipino Christmas tradition of Simbang Gabi, first celebrated in 1587, as a 9-day novena lives on but is celebrated differently now in the United States. At that time there were so many people wanting to attend Mass on the days leading up to Christmas that the prior of St. Agustin Acolman Convent on the island of Luzon, Philippines, asked the Pope's permission to hold the Masses outdoors. The request was granted and Simbang Gabi became a Filipino spiritual tradition of outdoor Mass on each of the nine days before Christmas.


Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) was first celebrated at dawn (Misa de Gallo) -- traditionally at 4 A.M. so the farmers and fishermen could attend on their way home from or on their way to work.  That is why this special time has also been called Mass of the Rooster. A special Filipino star lantern (parol) is one of the symbols used to commemorate the coming of Christ, our Light.


In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, several parishes take turns hosting one of the Masses during the 9 days (December 15-24).  All Masses this year are being held outdoors (so we return to the original outdoor venue) due to COVID. Many Masses will also be live-streamed. OLR is celebrating on December 19 at 4 P.M. Usually the celebration involves traditional delicacies, but we will have to wait until next year for the resumption of the reception. (Source: Catholic Update: December 2003) Thank you to our Filipino community for sharing this beautiful Advent preparation with us. 

RCIA for Adults: We have several adults considering RCIA. Think about your own family. Is anyone missing from being a part of the church community? RCIA is a non-threatening process for adults who have not been baptized Catholic (or baptized in another faith tradition) to explore coming into the church. We find that a personal invitation works best. Perhaps you can reach out and invite a family member or friend to consider inquiring about becoming Catholic. Sessions are currently on Zoom.


Adult Confirmation:  OLR has a special process for adults who have not been confirmed. In order to find out if you are eligible for this special Confirmation process, please contact the Office of Religious Education at 562-597-3102 to sign up for a phone interview. Sessions begin Wednesday, January 21, from 7-8:30 P.M. on Zoom and run for 14 weeks.  Many adults have not had any formal faith formation since they were children. This is a wonderful, non-judgmental way to find out more about our faith as adults and be confirmed in the Spring.


Mark your calendars:

Saturday, December 19          4:00 P.M.                    Mass for Simbang Gabi

Sa-Su, December 19-20          all Masses                   Christmas Outreach for Homeless – TOYS NEEDED

Thursday, December 24         4:00 P.M.                    Christmas Vigil Mass

Friday, December 25              8:00 & 10:00 A.M.      Christmas Day Masses


OLR Church Office (562) 498-6641    9:30 A.M. -- 2 P.M. (M-F)

5195 Stearns Street, Long Beach, CA 90815-2901

OLR website -- https://www.ourladyofrefuge.org

Betty Guevara, Parish Secretary -- betty@start.olrs.org

Shirl Giacomi, Director of Religious Education -- dre@start.olrs.org

(562) 597-3102           9 A.M. -- 3 P.M. (M-F)

Donnie Green, OLRS Interim Principal -- principal@start.olrs.org

OLR Catholic School -- (562) 597-0819     7:30 A.M. -- 3 P.M. (M-TH), 7:30 A.M. -- 1 P.M. (F)

5210 E. Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach, CA  90815

Team Refuge -- Holly Cavallaro, Coordinator (562) 822-9191

Faith Direct -- https://membership.faithdirect.net/enroll/CA966  or the app Faith Direct – eGiving for Churches. To securely make a one-time gift to Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church, text a dollar amount to (562) 414-6831.

Realm -- https://onrealm.org (to access your account) or the app Connect – our Church Community, ACS Technology Group (Realm Connect)