BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Christmas mass looks a little different this year as church leaders are trying to keep parishioners safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping traditions alive.

Church leaders across the city, including at the Baltimore Basilica, are making sure parishioners are social distancing inside and wearing masks so they can keep parishioners safe and the tradition alive.

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In a year of unprecedented times, Christmas mass is no exception.

“The mass is the heart of our life,” Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori said.

Worshippers take part in a Christmas Day mass at the Baltimore Basilica

At the Baltimore Basilica on Christmas morning, instead of people packed inside this year, pews were nearly empty.

“Whether we can only have a few people or we can pack the place, we’re going to celebrate,” said Archbishop Lori.

This year, services are being held much differently than in the past as COVID-19 restrictions cap religious gatherings at 25% capacity.

Some places of worship are offering online services for parishioners to attend virtually if they don’t feel comfortable going in person.

The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen is allowing people to make a choice.

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“We wanted to celebrate Christmas,” said parishioner Cindy.

“It’s nice to have that sort of sense of normalcy and being in a big church with the wonderful music and everything like that,” said Frank Bossle, another parishioner at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Although seats were left empty inside the cathedral, music filled the air.

“It’s just a very warm atmosphere,” said Diane Bossle.

Bossle said with plans to have a virtual Christmas with family members, it was important for her and her husband to do something traditional.

“It makes you feel a little bit normal in such a weird time,” Diane said.

If you were not able to attend mass in person today, a lot of churches and places of worship are posting their service online so you can watch from home.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner