Worshippers and visitors gather at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown for Christmas services

Josh Einiger Image
Monday, December 25, 2023
Christmas Eve Mass tradition continues at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC
Lindsay Tuchman has more on the Christmas Eve mass.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- People are celebrating Christmas across the Tri-State. For worshippers, one of the most popular places to observe mass during the holiday is St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown, Manhattan.

Crowds gathered for the midnight Christmas mass and Cardinal Timothy Dolan addressed the conflict in the Middle East as protesters gathered outside.

On the night before Christmas, police worked to part the sea of tourists in front of one of the world's most famous cathedrals.

"There is no place in the world like this place this church," said Romina Williams.

Williams and her husband attend mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral every Sunday. They were even married there.

"I was telling my husband this is the best city in the world, and everyone wants to come here because there is joy," said Williams.

The Christmas Eve services at St. Patrick's culminated in the annual Midnight Christmas Mass, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.

Taking to social media ahead of his sermon, Cardinal Dolan shared some words about the ongoing crisis in the Mideast.

"We see all of that in the Holy Land today. Our hearts go out to the people suffering there," he said.

Cardinal's Dolan's message came as Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem were called off due to the Israel-Hamas war.

The cancellation of Christmas festivities is a severe blow to the town's economy. Tourism accounts for an estimated 70% of Bethlehem's income - almost all of that during the Christmas season.

With many major airlines canceling flights to Israel, few foreigners are visiting. Local officials say over 70 hotels in Bethlehem have been forced to close, leaving thousands of people unemployed.

The fighting has affected life across the West Bank. Since Oct. 7, access to Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns in the Israeli-occupied territory has been difficult, with long lines of motorists waiting to pass military checkpoints. The restrictions have also prevented tens of thousands of Palestinians from exiting the territory to work in Israel.

As Pope Francis presided over a Christmas Eve Mass Sunday at St. Peter's Basilica he said, "Our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war."

As these recent events have sparked major concern across the world, the message of "peace on Earth" was shared among visitors who attended St. Patrick Cathedral Sunday morning.

"The true meaning of Christmas is being with family," said one visitor to Eyewitness News before sharing "peace on Earth" as their wish this holiday season.

"I just want everyone to be healthy and happy and be nice to each other," said another visitor.


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