LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey church congregation celebrating Christmas Eve say they may have witnessed a miracle after a man who stopped breathing at mass was saved by an off-duty fire captain.

Father Jacek Napora was celebrating Christmas Eve mass Thursday night at Saint Philomena Church in Livingston, when one of the Eucharistic ministers collapsed while distributing Holy Communion.

John Durish, an off-dury fire captain from Irvington, happened to be at the service that night, and rushed to the rescue.

“First we thought he just passed out, a couple people tending to him, nothing major, and then I saw it started to get a little ramped up, people ran to the back,” Durish said. “I saw someone come out with a defibrillator  and thought maybe I can offer some assistance.”

“I took over CPR, started doing chest compressions on the gentleman, we did shock him 3 times with the defibrillator — he started breathing after the third time,” Durish added.

Durish said that was the first time he had ever administered CPR to a victim with a successful outcome.

“This is the first time I’ve done CPR and actually have someone respond to it like this,” Durish said. “It’s awesome and with the Christmas season — it makes it that much more surreal, great feeling.”

The reverend told Carrasco the man is recovering at the hospital. He is expected to be released on Saturday.

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