For Catholics looking to attend Christmas services in the Capital Region, things are a little bit different this year.

"We're taking reservations now, either by email or by phone, and then we register people for each one of the four Masses of Christmas," said Very Rev. David LeFort, the vicar general and rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.

Father LeFort of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese says they've added an extra Mass this year to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. Each of the four Masses can accommodate up to 270 people, so it will look a bit different.

"Prior to the COVID pandemic, on Christmas, those three Masses we would typically see between 1,300 and upward to about 1,600 people or so," LeFort said. "Right now we have about 400 reservations, so that's significantly down."

They have specially designated entrances, arrows to show you where to walk, and pews numbered and roped off in different colors to not only maintain social distancing, but to denote which ones need to be sanitized in between each service.

"We can seat them in pre-assigned, according to household, families that can sit closer together," LeFort said. "And those really have been the plans we've got in place, we have already have good sanitization plans, people always wear masks."

Masks are worn by everyone except for the celebrant, until it's time for Communion.

"I have a mask on and my hands are sanitized and I give them holy communion in their hand," LeFort said. "Also, people have been exercising their right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, and if I sense in any way that I have come into contact with aerosol or with their person, again, I've got the sanitization right there."

​For those who aren't comfortable coming to church this year or who are immunocompromised, the Masses are being broadcast live online.

"If you are afraid at all of coming out of your home for the celebration of our faith, please, then don't risk that," LeFort said.

Father LeFort says you shouldn't feel any less faithful if you decide to partake from home. Celebrating your beliefs at Christmas time is all that matters, not where you celebrate them from.

"That can give us great joy and that faith doesn't have to be dimmed at by any pandemic," LeFort said.

Regardless of which you choose, LeFort says just being able to welcome people back for a major holy day after not being able to celebrate Easter the same way, feels extra special.

"It brings me a comfort and I know it consoles an awful lot of people that have been able to come back to the church during the pandemic, so my prayer is that it's going to be even more celebratory this year," LeFort said.

If reservations at your parish are full, you can always check with another parish in the diocese.

To make a reservation for any of the four Masses, you can call or email the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. More details are available on its website. To watch the livestream, visit