Is your normal pew taken? Could be a Mass mob

The AP's Carolyn Thompson reports on "Mass mobs," conceived and organized by some folks in Buffalo, NY, as a way for local Catholics to experience and support some of the city's beautiful and struggling parish churches.

It works this way: On a given Sunday, participants attend Mass en masse at a church they've picked in an online vote and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. Visitors experience the architecture, heritage and spirit of the aging houses of worship and the churches once again see the numbers they were built for, along with a helpful bump in donations when the collection baskets are passed.

There are other potential benefits, such as fostering a sense of connectedness across the diocese -- the priest whose parish hosted the last "mob" told Thompson, "It just shows that we are not just one parish, that it's the whole family of the diocese. We take care of each other." Whether the scheme could make a long-term difference in the fate of Buffalo's underattended parishes is an open question. But I love visiting new churches, both historic and ordinary, and I love a well-attended Sunday Mass, so I love this idea.

Apparently people in other cities have been inspired to start up Mass mobs of their own. Could it work where you live? Would you go?

Mollie Wilson O’​Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

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