Hundreds pack Fresno churches for early Christmas service

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hundreds of people are packing local churches across the Central Valley to remember the reason for the holidays.

Usually, the Christmas Eve mass is at midnight but because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, some Catholic churches like Our Lady of Victory in Fresno had an 8 p.m. service to allow its members to get some rest before coming back in the morning.

Outside the church on Christmas Eve, it was dark and quiet. But beyond the doors, there was a more spiritual feel, as more than 100 worshipers gathered, filling the pews for an early mass.

From scripture readings to singing to even moments of laughter, churchgoers reflected on the message of Christmas while focusing on Jesus' birth. Eles Garrard says there is no place she would have rather been.

It has been a tradition for her to come to the early service her entire life.

"I lit the candles for my parents and for those who have passed away and just thinking of people all over the world," she said.

Those candles lined the front of the church where people eventually walked to take communion. Then followed another expression of prayer that ended with sound of chimes.

Efran Rubio tells Action News this service is for anyone looking to deepen their connection with Christ.

"This weekend is the best message," Rubio said. "He came to save us and if you can get a little ounce that he came to save then you found God."

And it was a service that wrapped up with the congregation singing holiday songs.
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