WARREN - ''Christ is Risen'' was the message heard at local churches and parishes this Easter.
At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Parish in Warren, that message was heard from the Rev. James P. Walker, who delivered the Easter morning Mass to more than 400 members of the congregation.
''It has been incredibly wonderful to see so many families with children and babies. It does the heart so much good to see so much life and enthusiasm at Easter,'' said Walker, noting the past Holy Week was one of the most memorable for him with many people being baptized and received into the church.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
The Rev. Andrew Deskevich of SS. Peter and Paul Church in Warren travels down the center aisle of the church with the incense during an Easter liturgy.
''This has been one of my best experiences as a priest. ... We pray together today as we are all gathered into one by the Holy Spirit,'' he said.
Deacon Robert Simmerly, who accompanied Walker with the Easter Mass, said more than 800 people attended three services at the church - the Easter evening vigil on Saturday and two Masses on Sunday.
''We wish peace and love to all this Easter,'' he said.
Along with the Masses, Simmerly and the Rev. Jeff Stealey also blessed the Easter baskets and food.
Stealey said throughout Lent there was fasting by many, and at Easter the food is blessed so that it can be enjoyed by so many families.
''We bless this food which you will enjoy as you return to your homes and gather at the table with family,'' he said.
Julana and Deag Bowman of Lordstown brought two large baskets of food to be blessed.
''We have always brought our baskets here each Easter to get blessed,'' Julana Bowman said.
Julana said her family is Slovakian and Croation, so the basket contained many different breads, bacon, kielbasa, ham and special cheeses.
''We take food to both sides of the family at Easter. We will be with my mom first. I put some extra items in because the family pretty much cleans out my basket in one day,'' she said, noting she made four hams this Easter.
She said Saturday is the easier day to gather since she has four siblings who all get together for dinner.
Megan Welker of Howland was spending time with her mother, Marsha Rhodes, as each prepared a different food item for their family meal.
''We spend the morning at church and then head off to my mom's house,'' Welker said, noting the family likes stuffed cabbage - which they decided not to bring to church because of the smell.
''We all pitch in and make something for Easter. I don't do it all by myself,'' Rhodes said.
Beth Bacon of Niles, accompanied by her daughter, Lesley Chuirazzi and grandson, Colin Chuirazzi, 3, were having a large family Easter gathering Sunday afternoon.
Bacon's basket was filled with Easter bread, cheese, ham, meatloaf, hard-boiled eggs, butter and wine.
At SS. Peter and Paul Church in Warren, the Rev. Andrew Deskevich also spent time Saturday and Sunday after each vigil and liturgy blessing the Easter baskets and food.
Mary and Richard Prest of Brookfield were with their granddaughter, Alexandra Bisco of Hubbard, for Mass and then for the basket blessing.
''We are going to Cleveland today to see our son for a family celebration. All the food has been prepared,'' she said.
John Koza of Vienna said he brings his family to the Mass to be together and then takes the food made by different family members for an Easter dinner.
''It is important for us all to be together. We always attend the Easter vigil,'' he said.