With the "Simbang Gabi" or dawn Masses ahead of Christmas starting today, the Manila Cathedral or the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Tuesday said only a limited number of churchgoers can be accommodated for its scheduled Masses for the holiday season.
“We can accommodate 240 inside the Manila Cathedral,” cathedral rector Fr. Reginald Malicdem said in a Viber message to reporters on Tuesday.
Those who will not be able to go inside the church can still watch and hear the Mass outside, the rector said.
“Those who cannot be accommodated inside can stay at Plaza Roma where there are LED screens and sound systems,” Malicdem said.
The following are the scheduled Masses for the holidays which starts Wednesday dawn until New Year’s Day (January 1, 221): Simbang Gabi: 8 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.; Christmas Eve (December 24): 8 p.m.; Christmas Day (December 25); 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.; New Year’s Eve (December 31): 8 p.m.; New Year’s Day: 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.
All Masses can also be viewed via live streaming at the cathedrals' Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The nine-day Simbang Gabi is traditionally held at dawn from December 16 to 24.
Under quarantine protocols, religious gatherings are allowed at 30 percent seating capacity of the venue in areas under the general community quarantine.
Earlier, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines recommended that during the celebration of Simbang Gabi, Masses in the evening can start as early as 6 p.m. while the last Mass in the morning can be celebrated at 6 a.m.
It added that the bishop of a place in consultation with the parishes and in coordination with the local government unit could schedule more Simbang Gabi Masses in different venues which can be large enough to accommodate more people and still observe social distancing.
Also, on Christmas Eve, the Vigil Mass of Christmas may be celebrated from 6 p.m.
The last Mass of Dec. 24 would take the liturgy of the Midnight Mass of Christmas while the dawn Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated on the early morning of December 25.
Meanwhile, Church-run Radio Veritas will be holding Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo at the Veritas chapel, 162 West Avenue corner Edsa, Quezon City starting Wednesday until Dec. 24.
The celebrations will be presided by different bishops and priests and will be broadcast live on-air at Veritas846 AM, book Page of Radyo Veritas PH, and Veritas YouTube channel.