Officials in the Catholic Church spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more people to come to Sunday Mass, but four people in Buffalo have developed a simple campaign that can fill the pews beyond expectations, even if it's just one parish at a time.
The concept is called Buffalo Mass Mob, where every two months a group of people pick one church in the city, send the word out, then attend a scheduled Sunday Mass with as many people as they can. The fifth Buffalo Mass Mob is this Sunday, 11 a.m., at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in South Buffalo.
"Our main objective is to give churches a little boost, whether it's bringing attention to the church or (help) get them some money for maintenance," said Danielle Huber, who, along with Christopher Byrd, Alan Oberst and Greg Witul, founded the concept of Buffalo Mass Mob. Their idea was inspired by another local initiative called Buffalo Cash Mob, which involved patronizing a particular local business on one day.
Huber, Byrd, Oberst and Witul wanted to do something similar in order to raise awareness to the history, architecture and communities of Buffalo's sacred sites. They set up the first Mass Mob at St. Adalbert Church in November 2013. Since then, they have visited Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. John Kanty and All Saints parishes.
The campaign has been successful, drawing at least a few hundred people into each Mass. The group accepts nominations for future Mass Mob sites through emails, and they put it out to a vote through a poll on their website. As many as 800 more people attended the St. John Kanty Mass Mob, above and beyond the usual parishioners.
Mass Mob participants also help the chosen parish's bottom line, as they will typically donate money during the weekly collections. The leaders of Buffalo Mass Mob don't make any money from the campaign.
"The thrill and excitement that the priests get when they see their pews filled, it brings so much happiness to the people," Huber said. "It really means a lot to the community."
Like Buffalo Cash Mob, the campaign has expanded into other cities such as Detroit, which drew over a thousand new people at a Mass recently. Buffalo Mass Mob has a "How To" guide to set a campaign in a new city on their website.
"There's just so many benefits to having Mass Mob and spreading it nationally," Huber said.
Father James Judge, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, is excited to host this weekend's Mass Mob.
"It is a brilliant way to bring both young and old families back to the Church, and a great invitation to new friends," Father Judge said on the Buffalo Mass Mob website.
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