Last year, I read with interest that a few people had organized the first Mass Mob in Detroit. They got the idea from a similar effort in Buffalo. It’s not what you might think…it’s a flash mob at a chosen church. The intent is to fill up the pews, and the coffers, in support of a parish in need of a boost. There are so many beautiful, historic churches in the city and keeping them open is a mission to some.
This past Sunday was the first Mass Mob of 2015 in Detroit. It was held at Old Saint Mary’s in Greektown. Two of my friends and I decided to go, and we left before 10 for a noon Mass. Upon arrival, we were directed to a nearby parking garage at Greektown Casino. The casino had donated the parking for the event. We had to wait outside for the 10 a.m. service to let out and then had to sit for almost an hour waiting for the start of the Mass Mob. It was exhilarating.
The event was very well orchestrated which made it seem spontaneous even though it was planned. As more and more people poured into the church, we all “squeezed in” to make room. Estimates are that 1600 to 1700 people shared the experience.
We chatted with the visitors around us. In front of me was a couple coming from 50 miles away. They had been married in this very church three decades prior. Other stories were told around us as we awaited the start of Mass. The Knights of Columbus led the procession of the celebrants into the church.
We were blessed to have the Archbishop preside, and I warmed to him right away. He told us that some of us might be there as a sort of Catholic tourism…but he was okay with that. His deeper hope was that we were part of a new evangelism in spreading our Faith.
When the time came to take up the collection, I noticed that a security firm had been hired to watch over the process. They wore black jackets with a discrete logo and plain khaki pants. As the ushers moved down the aisle, one came with a large, medicine-bag-style briefcase, collecting the money and moving it off to one of the guards as the ushers worked their way back through the church. When the offering was brought up, rest assured that the money had already been secreted away and the focus was on the bread, water, and wine.
After Mass, my friends and I wandered out into the sunshine and past quite a few drunken Millennials in green T-shirts. They were coming from the St. Patrick’s day parade…such an odd juxtaposition of events that day. It reminded me of Thomas Cahill’s book, How The Irish Saved Civilization. Much of it is focused on St. Patrick. It is a delightful and educational telling of a part of world history that is often neglected. St. Patrick wasn’t much for green beer and corned beef, but he was an integral part of saving the Western World’s culture, and with it the Catholic church. Now, modern believers are offered the opportunity through these Mass Mob, grass-roots efforts to save some of the cultural touchstones of our Faith for the next generation.
Find the Joy in the Journey…