OCEANSIDE — Mission San Luis Rey held a Christmas Eve midnight mass in the mission chapel for the first time in 15 years. “None of the friars that live here in the parish can remember there being a mass here,” Brother James Lockman said.
The tradition of Christmas Eve mass in the Mission San Luis Rey chapel took a hiatus when the parish building opened on mission grounds and the number of parishioners soon grew to 4,700, a number 10 times what the 200-year-old chapel could hold.
Some longtime parishioners remember the tradition of midnight masses at Mission San Luis Rey chapel. “We held Christmas masses, when we had all masses here,” Al Varrichio, mass usher and parish member since 1964, said. “We had people flowing out the doors.”
This year the attendance at the midnight mass was limited to the first 400 to arrive. Families lined up at 10:30 p.m., doors opened at 11:15 p.m., and the mass began at midnight with carols and worship.
The hope is that Christmas Eve mass will once again be an annual event. “We’re hoping to start this as an annual tradition,” Maureen Sullivan, Mission San Luis Rey special events and marketing associate, said. “It’s such a special church and it’s been such a special tradition.”