NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Faithful from around the Tri-State are flocking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in celebration of Christmas.

As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s mid-morning Mass held a message about everyone and everything playing a part in God’s plan and was mixed with mirth as he told the 2,500 congregants a story of his little nephew, Charlie in St. Louis, who wasn’t pleased with the part he received in the school Christmas play.

“I said ‘Charlie, are you saying anything in the Christmas play?’ He said ‘yes.’ I said, ‘What are you going to say?’ Charlie said ‘Hee Haw’ (laughter) … Charlie was the jackass,'” joked Dolan.

There was laughter and tears of joy for many grateful to be in attendance on Christmas Day.

“It makes me cry, it’s so wonderful, it’s so beautiful, it’s just — words can’t describe it, really,” said one congregant.

“It’s one of the most beautiful churches in New York and it’s just a oce in a lifetime opportunity to so whilst in New York I guess it’s what you do,” Rob Malinauskas told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Malinauskas is visiting from Australia and said he’s feeling thankful.

“It’s just a fantastic opportunity to be here with my girlfriend and do something that we’re very, very fortunate to be able to do and obviously there are a lot of people that are very unfortunate in the world and I’m just blessed to have this opportunity to come here and enjoy the Mass,” he said.

Overnight, many waited outside the cathedral for hours in anticipation of the traditional Christmas Eve midnight Mass.

Voices were raised in song of celebration at a full St. Patrick’s Cathedral as believers celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported. It was a message of hope for the season and for the faithful in attendance early Friday morning.

Those who were lucky enough to get inside said it was well worth the wait.

“We turned it into a tradition,” said Norma Pagan, of Washington Heights.

Jim Sullivan, first in line, waited for four hours before the service began.

“I’m grateful to have been selected, this is actually my second year in a row that I’ve been able to win the lottery,” he said.

Due to overwhelming demand, the cathedral holds a lottery system for midnight Mass attendance. According to its website, the cathedral receives thousands of requests every year and tickets are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis based on when requests are received.

Many said midnight Mass was a time for a renewal of faith and for family to come together to rejoice.

“With the cardinal and just the Christmas carols and everything else, it just brings the spirit of Christmas into your heart,” said Elenita D’Aloia, of the Bronx.

And the celebrations did not end with midnight Mass. St. Patrick’s Cathedral had several services scheduled throughout Christmas Day, with its final Mass starting at 5:30 p.m.

Worshipers also gathered at St. John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue On Christmas Day, 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported.

Rev. James Kowalski said this day is about peace and love.

“If we don’t respect the dignity of every other human being, what we’re really saying is that we don’t believe that we have dignity either,” he said during the morning Mass.

Shouvik Paul brought his 4-year-old daughter to Mass so that she could learn that Christmas is about more than just presents.

“To come out here and just take a break from all of that madness,” he said.

Paul said he took the sermon to heart.

“We live in a very volatile world right now, we just have to work at it,” he said.


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