Kate Sanyer said it's Christmas Eve tradition to go to mass.
"We're from Ecuador," she said. "Typically we go to Midnight Mass but with the little ones, we come a little earlier. It means that all of us get to come together. We moved here 20 plus years ago so now to bring our kids and to share it with them is a wonderful experience."
Nearly 2,500 came to the 4 p.m. service at the Holy Name Cathedral of Jesus in Raleigh.
1,500 people showed up for the 6 p.m. service including the May Brothers.
"It means a lot," said Dan May. "I was born Catholic. I grew up Catholic."
"For me to be here means a lot because so many people around the world just don't have this opportunity to be here," said Jonathan May.
Monsignor David Brockman leads the church.
"People are here from all over the world, from all over the country and all over North Carolina are doing this but that's what a cathedral does--it gathers people around the altar of the Lord," Brockman said.
Duke Chapel also welcomed thousands Monday including Barbara Brewer, who is visiting her daughter and son-in-law from Ohio.
"It means family and love and Jesus - he died for us so that's what we're here for," she said.