The Garden Island
KALAHEO — When Mass started at 5 a.m. Saturday for the first day of Misa de Gallo, new parols hung from the high ceilings of Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo. But these ornamental, star-shaped Christmas lanterns, which usually come from the Philippines, were made by church members here on Kauai, using recycled materials.
Misa de Gallo, or “rooster’s Mass” in Spanish, is a novena of Masses held in the early mornings of the nine days leading up to and including Christmas Eve.
All the Catholic churches on Kauai celebrate Misa de Gallo, said Fernando Ramos of Holy Cross.
“We have chickens in the nativity scene because in the Philippines, we don’t have alarm clocks. We’re all farmers and the chickens are the alarms to wake up.”
Ramos said the sense of educating through the use of available materials gave birth to the idea of creating parols from recycled materials.
“Our first set of parol … we imported,” Ramos said. “It was expensive and covered with shells. We used that for a long time, and over the years, the shells became broken and fell off.”
In the meantime, his friend, Ben Deguzman, started creating parols using recycled materials.
“We introduced it to Father Antonio Abuan, who said to put it outside the church,” Ramos said. “When he saw the first one, he liked it and told us to make more.”
Church members started gathering materials to create parols in October.
“Everyone helped,” Ramos said. “We got the foundation from thrown-away bicycle rims. The men would go out and come back with one, maybe two a day. The bottles came from everywhere after we put up a notice. And the community, everyone helped. They gave us money to help pay for the paint. The Altar Society said they all worked so they gave us money to pay for the glitter. The youth group and elementary children came to paint.”
The dozen parols decorating the church were painted by Deguzman.
Ramos said they are also working on new outdoors scenes, including a nativity.
“The idea is to turn recyclable materials into art,” Ramos said. “Every day of the nine-day celebration has a different theme, and we’re still working on some ideas. We’re trying to show people how to turn recycling into art, and because Misa de Gallo is a biblical celebration, teach people about the symbols in each day’s theme.”
The project has been well-received, with some of the lanterns already spoken for, Ramos said.
“People want to buy them,” he said. “We already have four committed, and Ben is busy working on more. We’ll use the proceeds from the sale to benefit the church for its Christmas.”