Decades of Christmas traditions at Basilica of the National Shrine

For almost a century now, thousands have gathered for a moving Christmas Day mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Northeast.

To share in the most beautiful sights and sounds of the holiday, Cardinal Donald Wuerl lead Tuesday's service as he's done for more than twenty years.

Celebrated with worshippers young and old and from near and far.

"I met a family from Utah one year and they just were quite a treat. Everyone having their different story and how they've been blessed and wanting to have the opportunity to be a blessing to others, I thought that was quite beautiful."

Meanwhile downstairs, a 42-year-old tradition continues. Volunteers are serving Christmas dinner to those who are lonely and in need.

"The menu…turkey and dressing, string beans, sweet potato, cranberry sauce a roll and apple pie."

Valerie says they came to remember Ms. Flora's 94-year-old fiance who she lost this past year.

"I told Ms. Flora that in the memory of Mr. Henry you want to come over to the basilica? And she said yes. So I said okay we can go enjoy the Christmas dinner and the Christmas program so that's why we are here."

She has no children and he was the only love of her life.

"Today I've had five volunteers just arrive. They were not able to either reserve space on the Internet or they just happen to be here. One of whom is from New York, another who's not catholic so we have many people who just say I heard about this and i want to participate, I want to give back.

Valencia Camp has been organizing this event for more than a decade..

One thousand meals prepared in the church and another thousand delivered, but Camp says every year its worth it.

"Christ has given me the ability to serve. And when I give back I see the face of Christ in others and it's my gift."