¡Vaya lío! Flash ‘Mass Mobs’ help struggling parishes.

From the Buffalo News:

‘Mass Mob’ breathes life into Catholic church [Nice of them to demote the Church to ‘church’, no?]

Sam Kolodziej Jr. had a few more people than normal in his pew on Sunday morning.

In fact, there were a couple hundred extra members of the faithful inside Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. And they had the Buffalo ‘Mass Mob’ – the latest iteration of Internet flash mobs – to thank.

The church on O’Connell Avenue in the Old First Ward was packed with about 300 people for the 10:30 a.m. Mass, with most of the churchgoers drawn as part of an event meant to supply a dose of rejuvenation to some of Buffalo’s Catholic churches. A normal crowd for the Sunday morning Mass is less than 100, the church’s pastor said.

Kolodziej, a long-time parishioner who graduated from the grammar school formerly on the site, said he even got a little emotional seeing the church filled with worshippers.

“Overwhelming,” Kolodziej said when asked about the turnout. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Believers said the event made the church look like it did decades ago when Mass attendance in the United States was higher than it is today.  [Ahhh the fruits of renewal of the …. 60’s.]

Flash mobs have taken on a different spin locally with cash mobs, where a crowd descends on a local business to give it a boost in sales. Niagara Falls has a “CleanMob,” which focuses on cleaning up trash.

The idea for the Mass Mob grew out of a “Facebook Mass” held a few years ago at St. Adalbert Basilica on Stanislaus Street, when the church encouraged its Facebook fans to come to a Sunday morning Mass. [Use of social media to encourage people to… go to Mass?!?] Electronic communication and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, play a prominent role in spreading the word about the event.

“What you’ll hear from people about a place like this is that it’s kind of on a side street in the First Ward. Nobody ever really sees it,” said co-organizer Christopher Byrd. “It falls off the radar screen. People forgot about this place in a lot of ways.”

The organizers, including Byrd, Danielle Huber, Alan Oberst and Greg Witul, want places like Our Lady of Perpetual Help back on the radar screen.

“Maybe it will inspire people to come a few times a year,” Byrd said, “and it gives the church a little one-day boost, attendance-wise and in the collection basket.” [And, if there is something going on inside the church, such as worthy liturgical worship, decent preaching, and opportunities to participate in parish life… who know what might happen? People might actually…. gasp… go there regularly.]

The organizers want to give these churches a shot in the arm before it may be too late.

The declining fortunes of St. Ann’s Church at Broadway and Emslie Street – a closed Catholic church that some are working to save – has provided some motivation to the organizers.

We need to be proactive to save these buildings,” Huber said.


“We need to be proactive.”


For example, if you want to build/expand/keep your Extraordinary Form Mass, you have to apply yourselves with grace and elbow grease.

Don’t sit around and wait for Father to do something.*

That approach will mean the death of parishes, the closing of churches, the loss of treasures gained through the sacrifices of our forbears.

Get organized, come up with plans, present them and do something.

¡Vaya lío!

*A typical Catholic approach to serious problems.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The Masked Chicken says:

    Flash mobs are interesting, but they don’t really do much good in the long run. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving as well as works of charity by the parishioners will do a lot more.

    The single best thing that can be done to prevent the closure of parishes is for Catholics to have more children. Yes, there is spiritual apathy, but, in large measure, the shrinking size of church attendance is mirrored in other areas, such as college attendance. It is, simply put, a matter of family size to a large extent.

    The Chicken

  2. SpesUnica says:

    Fr. Z, speaking of using social media for the powers of good, I am curious whether you have heard any updates about that priest who had remodeled his office to make confession more convenient, and IIRC was working on a smartphone app to show when and where confessors were in the confessional? I thought that if that was available already, then perhaps you might be using it.

  3. juventutemDC says:

    Coming to the March for Life? Will you be there the night before? Juventutem DC & Michigan invite all, and especially young adult Catholics, to a holy hour with exposition and benediction on Jan 21 at 8 PM — https://www.facebook.com/events/199723923553675/

  4. benedetta says:


  5. priests wife says:

    If only 1% of the 10,000 registered families at the local super-big Roman-rite parish would have a ‘mass Mob’ at our Byzantine Catholic mission….my priest-husband is there for this mega-parish every 6:30 Mass every Sunday….regular visitors are such a blessing

  6. KosmoKarlos says:

    Fr. Z, completely unrelated, but what is the name of the painting of the procession?

  7. Maynardus says:

    This reminded me of the account complied by Michael Davies of the ‘liberation’ of St. Nicholas du Chardonnet in Paris… perhaps that was the proto-(Catholic)Flashmob? Just think what they could have done if they’d had the internet and smartphones!

  8. Elizium23 says:

    Well, they breathed life into one parish. That’s a Catholic church. The Catholic Church is about 1.2 billion people strong, so how much life is breathed by three hundred into that?

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