NEW YORK (WCBS 880 / 1010 WINS) – Church members and tourists filled the pews of the historic Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan on Friday for the annual Christmas Eve Family Eucharist.
The Trinity youth chorus performed and spread the holiday’s message of hope, which has a special meaning for the church’s members and clergy.
Father Matthew Heyd, director of Faith in Action for Trinity, said people from all over the world come to see the church and to volunteer—a sign that the spirit of Christmas is reflected every day of the years.
“Christmas is about hope in God’s gift to us, but we see hope in the faces of people who come to us for Christmas and every day of the year,” Heyd said.
Trinity and its chapel, St. Paul’s, were closely involved with first responders and others about 9/11. Heyd told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola that this Christmas there were more signs of hope for the neighborhood.
“We see every day the post 9/11 community of Lower Manhattan. There are more people living downtown than there were before 9/11, there are different businesses than there were before 9/11, there is great life here, which extends well beyond Ground Zero, and that is an exciting thing for us,” Heyd said.
Some people merely stumbled into the celebration by accident.
“We were wandering down Wall Street, and the doors were open so I liked to peek in,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.
Even the church’s brown bag lunch program has grown. In the past year and a half, Heyd said they have served more than 12,000 people.
For now, Heyd will look at the church, decorated with evergreen boughs and red ribbons, and celebrate the holidays on this Christmas Eve.
“This feels like the crossroads of the world, not only 9/11 but Wall Street, and people come to be part of this. We want to be a light whenever people come,” Heyd said.
Maryanne Bower came from Indianapolis to celebrate Christmas with her son and granddaughter and said there was no better time to visit Trinity than now.
“Just being with family and being in New York. We had never been here at Christmas. We’re enjoying it very much. It’s beautiful. It’s magical,” she said.
Her son Patrick, who lives here, said there is something special about celebrating at this church.
“I think it’s something that’s been a cornerstone in this area for I don’t know a couple centuries,” he said. “They’ve always wanted to see the World Trade Center site. I said this is a good time to stop here.”