A customary tradition for many Arizonans is changing: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day masses. Local churches are left figuring out if and how they could open their doors.
The melody of music gives new life to a long-standing Christmas tradition. This year Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Phoenix is holding Christmas Eve mass outdoors. It was made possible with the guidance of doctors and public health officials. This is providing safety and hope to the community.
If anything is a take away from this pandemic, it is that we are now more united and more connected to one another than we ever have before... through our care and concern for others," says Very Rev. Troy Mendez, Dean of Trinity Cathedral.
Trees and garland were donated to the church to offer visual comfort to those needing a little more light this Christmas. Families were gathered at a distance but connected through prayer.
"I think we've learned how much we depend and miss our friends and family. And, how much we cherish them in maybe ways that the pandemic led to that we might not have otherwise," says David Howell, parishioner, Trinity Cathedral.
This unprecedented time has affected everyone differently. For the Original Sacred Heart Church, a historical landmark, that meant breaking a 32-year-old tradition - canceling Christmas Day mass.
The mass carries so much history about the City of Phoenix, its earliest neighborhoods and barrios.
"We would have a moment of silence and a bell ringing and that brought a lot of tears to a lot of people because they remembered their elders, they remembered their families. I think that's the thing they are going to miss the most," says Abe Arvisu, Jr. chairman, Braun Sacred Heart Church.
Abe Arvisu, Jr.'s family, along with the entire community, built the church. His father led the efforts to the creation of the Christmas Day mass. Although the church remains unoccupied the rest of the time, it is still standing.
"They can still come out and visit. They can come out as a family. They can wander around and go look for the area where they used to live," says Arvisu, Jr.
For those capable of having mass, it brings about a new meaning.
"We don't have any walls surrounding us so we see people walking down the street every day who are observing and they are saying that the church is still very active, open and alive," says Very Rev. Mendez.