'My message is hope': Parishioners celebrate Christmas Eve church services outdoors in Novato

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Christmas is looking a lot different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic -- especially how we worship.

Many church services are being live streamed, other parishes are braving the elements outdoors. One church family was celebrating the season together in the North Bay.

It's a Christmas Eve like no other.

"I want to hear all the songs on Christmas Eve," said Vernon Nathe.

RELATED: San Jose church continues defying COVID-19 orders with plans for an indoor Christmas Eve service

Parishioners at Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church in Novato were celebrating Christmas Eve mass under a tent on the playground of the church's school.

Father Tony Vallecillo has been holding masses outdoors, but this one is different. "My message to parishioners is one of hope," said Vallecillo.

Hope, after a traumatic year.

"People have come down with COVID-19, having our faith to turn to has been reassuring for a lot of people," he said.

Patsy Berg survived COVID-19, but her son is still recovering from it after a long battle. "It was a big test of our faith, no parent wants to lose a son," she said.

RELATED: Experts say holiday rituals hard to change despite pleas from Bay Area health officials

The church staff was following protocols, doing temperature checks and spacing out chairs. Face masks are required for worship. Outdoor services are allowed for 100 people maximum. Reservations are required.

"We're happy to offer this to our community on this very unique Christmas season," said Vallecillo.

With so many friends and family separated this season, there are Christmas wishes for the future.

"I hope for a vaccine soon for everyone, and hopefully next year we'll be back to normal," said Nathe.

Meantime, Christmas 2020 is here at a time when we need it most.



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