Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting John and Wendy Hallett at a fundraising reception for the Archdiocese of the Military Services in San Francisco. We were raising money to fund seminarians who are preparing to become chaplains in the military.
The Halletts’ son, Captain John Hallett III, died in Afghanistan, the victim of a roadside bomb. They told me how their son was able to receive Holy Communion from an Army chaplain just days before his death. The Halletts are members of Our Lady of Mercy parish in Point Richmond. Let’s remember their son John in our prayers and Masses, and the heroic sacrifice he made. At Christmas we miss our departed loved ones all the more.
Last Wednesday we had the opening Mass for the Simbang Gabi Novena in preparation for Christmas. It is a longstanding Filipino Catholic tradition in which Catholics rise early before dawn and go to Mass in their parish church. Simbang Gabi means “Dawn Mass.” Families carry brightly decorated lamps in the shape of stars, called parols. We had a wonderful procession of parols at the start of Mass, which lined the walls of our Cathedral. They are most appropriate for our Cathedral named “Christ the Light” as the Epiphany Star of Bethlehem is the symbol of our Cathedral and Diocese. I am so pleased with the faith, devotion and service of our Filipino Catholic community in the Diocese of Oakland.