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.

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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.”

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“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.”

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