Mass Mob 2

Today was the second edition of Buffalo Mass Mob, Christopher Byrd’s brilliant adaptation of Chris Smith’s Cash Mob concept.

If you’re unfamiliar, the idea is to designate a specific Mass at a specific Catholic Church on a specific date and encourage people throughout WNY to attend. The purpose is to raise awareness of the Queen City’s wealth of historic churches and to encourage their preservation.Mass Mob 2 ext web

The first Mass Mob took place in December at St. Adalbert’s Basicilla on Buffalo’s east side. Round two was set at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (OLPH) built in 1897 on O’Connell St. in the First Ward.

OLPH is tucked away on a street less traveled, in a neighborhood once vibrant with Irish immigrants and waterfront commerce. Yet when entering the Gothic style church its beautiful elegance still defines it as a significant house of worship, despite neighborhood and parish decline.

The usual gathering of Sunday worshipers at OLPH numbers around 50.  Today Mass Mob brought the church to standing room only tinged with an electric atmosphere.  Mass celebrant, Fr. Donald Lutz, energized the congregation preaching a sermon of inclusiveness and caring, with a nod to Pope Francis’ encompassing attitude. Even the requisite passing of the collection baskets took on a sense of wonder as OLPH ushers were slowed by the increased donations from the many gathered.

Yet from the perspective of an Irish woman raised in the Catholic faith, the most significant moment of this second Mass Mob came at the Communion, the most sacred part of the service. As OLPH parishioners and Mass Mob visitors merged on their way to the church’s altar, a soft buzz of conversation briefly filled the sanctuary. It took me a moment to realize that the unusual behavior was joyful interaction among those gathered in celebration of their religious Mass Mob 2 webtraditions and their community’s heritage.  A wondrous moment of unity.

While Mass Mob is dedicated to inspiring the WNY Community, it might benefit the Catholic Church to witness that when you give respectful consideration to people and their lives, they will come.

Looking forward to Mass Mob 3.



8 Responses to Mass Mob 2

  1. Maybe they will come to be part of a media event, but they won’t be back at OLPH next week or the week after or weeks after that. The parishioner base will continue to dwindle and yet another Catholic Church will be closed. This decline is happening in many suburban parishes, too, necessitating a new round of school closings. And maybe “respectful consideration” also entails paying solemn respect to the Eucharist during Communion. I was taught and believe that this is the time during the Mass to be silent and deeply introspective, rather than a time for social interaction which more appropriately takes place during the sign of peace. But I guess nowadays you can do whatever floats your boat and to hell with any kind of standards.

    • The point of Mass Mob is not to cure the ills of the Catholic Church. Rather it is to draw attention to the treasures we have in the form of these wonderful churches and encourage people to experience the mass within them.

      The decline of the Catholic Church is a concern held by many. I do believe the Pope Francis is a lightning rod for change and inclusionary reform who will encourage many to return to the church.

      As for the interaction at yesterday’s Mass at the beginning of the communion, I have edited that part of my story to more accurately portray the happening. It was a moment that lasted briefly that I found quite impactful.

      Thank you for reading and for your comments.

  2. It truly is a shame that the numbers are dwindling and people don’t feel that church is as important as my generation as those before it. Church wasn’t just about the religious aspect, it’s also about community; it was that one place where everyone would be, come Sunday morning, no matter what. The Mass Mob experience gave us that sense of community again. It’s quite possible that a few people may return. People may have been reminded of what they’re missing without knowing they were missing it. I do agree that reverence is an issue. I see socializing during Communion, talking during the Consecration, children playing with electronic devices (ear plugs included), couples throwing their envelope in the basket and then leaving so they can secure the church for their wedding and I actually saw someone go across the street for coffee during mass. They were there for a Baptism. Most of the bad behavior takes place at weddings, First Communions and Baptisms amongst people who haven’t seen the inside of a church since their last Sacrament. However, if you don’t go to church, Catholic school or Religious instructions you don’t learn how to behave at Mass. We had the advantage of being around parents who cared how we behaved and the wonderful Allegany Franciscans. Church isn’t the only place where respect for others and their surroundings is missing. Go to any restaurant, mall or any other public place and you will see children who are not being disciplined and parents who are caught up in their own world and don’t really care that their children are disrupting everyone around them.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Kathleen. I agree with you completely. When I think about what compels me to attend Mass, I realize that the traditions of my life play a large part in my desire to enter into a church and partake.

  3. As to the noise level at Communion time, around me it was a respectful, hushed buzz as the many visitors tried to find the correct “traffic pattern” to receive Our Lord. There was nothing disrespectful to Our Lord.

    Come on out next time. Mass Mob will not save any parish single-handedly, it is a moment of worship.

    • Mary Ann Bernard, I agree with you completely. Mass Mob may not save any parish, but I do believe it inspires all of us in some way to reconnect and care about these iconic houses of worship in our community. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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