Jennibeth Sabay is a junior sister of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, a missionary congregation committed to the poorest of the poor. Before entering the novitiate in 2016, she was a public health nurse in Cebu Provincial Health Office in the Philippines. Currently, she assists in a program called Pastoral Care for Children-Philippines and volunteers in medical missions and social actions organized by different church organizations. She also serves on a vocation team and at Emilie's Home, a program for women and children in her parish and neighboring areas.
For Filipino Catholics, Simbang Gabi is primarily an expression of filial devotion to the Virgin Mary. They accompany her for nine days as she anticipates the birth of her son. The novena helps Filipinos appreciate their faith more fully, prompts them to meditate on God's love and draws people closer to Jesus Christ.
Living in an international community is far from easy, but God's grace makes it possible. It has allowed me to discover similarities and differences of each person and their culture, with our same faith in Jesus Christ.
Crisis has not hindered the church from finding ways to nourish our faith. Virtual gatherings for worship and prayer have been real experiences of connection for people who cannot leave their homes.
We are relational beings. With this pandemic, we may face physical distancing and movement restrictions, but those will never hinder us from connecting and nurturing our relationships with God and fellow human beings.