NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christians around the Tri-State Area celebrated Easter mass on Sunday, and unlike last year, some services were able to take place in person.

With the pump of his fist and a pat on the shoulder, Timothy Cardinal Dolan enthusiastically welcomed back worshippers to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Outside the church, families in their Sunday best felt a sense of renewal as well, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.

“It gives you this calmness, like chills come inside just to be with the priests,” said Marie Johnson of Midtown.

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Last Easter, the coronavirus pandemic forced all services to go virtual. Cardinal Dolan had to deliver his homily to an empty church.

While the cathedral’s doors opened this year, capacity is capped at 50% or 1,000 people. Those without tickets lined up for a chance to get inside.

“Don’t tell anybody, I’m afraid we went a little over that today, but we were very careful. So it means the world. And to know that hundreds of thousands are united with us at home, that’s the church’s job,” Dolan said.

Services continued to be offered online for many parishes, including the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Brooklyn.

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In Hackensack, New Jersey, New Hope Baptist Church transformed its resurrection worship services into a drive-in.

“We are just excited today that we are going to be able to see some faces, even see some children we haven’t seen in a year,” said Ronica Harris, New Hope Baptist’s executive minister.

Parishioners who chose to come in person said they needed to be uplifted mentally and physically after such a grim year.

“It’s just a really good time to reset and look at what you’re doing with your life. Is it time for a refresh or a reset, and, hopefully, this is the moment,” Mary Higham said.

The return of parishioners this Easter signals a renewal for better and brighter days ahead.

Christina Fan contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team