Archbishop Timothy Dolan brought a special Christmas Mass to FDNY members as millions of city residents welcomed the holiday across the five boroughs. Michael Hertzenberg filed the following report.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan brought a special mass to some those who couldn't quite make it to church this Christmas eve, holding a service at FDNY Engine Company 8 and Ladder 2 in Turtle Bay.
Among the firefighters present was the family of Robert Wiedmann, one of two firefighters burned battling a blaze in Crown Heights earlier this week.
"I just want to thank everybody for all the prayers for Robby," said Wiedmann's brother Doug. "He had his first surgery and yesterday and he's doing well."
Dolan blessed New York's Bravest – but he probably didn't expect his blessing to be needed so quickly. First responders got sent out on a call during the service, then returned safely.
"It reminds us of this baby whose birth we celebrate," Dolan said. "It calls to selfless love and sacrifice, and that's what these men and women in uniform do all the time."
Meanwhile, in Morningside Heights, more than a thousand people gathered at Riverside Church for what it called an interdenominational, interracial service for an international congregation.
A Christmas service for children and families at Trinity Church on Wall Street included story telling and child participation.
Trinity Church traces its roots back to 1697, but that's not long at all compared with St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where Pope Benedict XVI rode down the basilica's central aisle on a moving platform to spare him the long walk.
The 84-year-old pontiff gave midnight mass a little early – at 10 p.m. Vatican time – to allow him time to rest. He urged the faithful to look beyond the holiday's "superficial glitter'' to discover its true meaning.
Father Brian Jordan of the St. Francis of Assisi Church has held Christmas mass at the World Trace Center site since the terror attacks of 9/11. Those who attend include family members who lost loved ones, first responders, and recovery workers.
Father Jordan says this year's mass here will be his last.
"It's not to end perpetual prayer," Jordan said. "This place is sacred ground and will always be sacred ground. Whether I come here this year, next year or any other year, it's still sacred ground and I'll always be in prayer for this. But I think it's time to move on."
Father Jordan says some of the worshipers understand, while others want to change his mind.