SOUTH ST. LOUIS - Sunday morning, another "Mass Mob" filled St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in south St Louis, which was founded in 1863. Mass Mobs have been hosted at parishes across the Archdiocese of St. Louis with the purpose of bringing people together for worship and to raise awareness and appreciation for some of the city's most historic churches. The gatherings have drawn about 400-500 people on average.
“It’s really excited to see how many people turn out and see what St Anthony is all about,” said Staci Harvatin Lindsey .
St. Anthony of Padua today consists of families with ties to the original German parishioners. Staying true to its immigrant-friendly roots, the neighborhood has a growing number of parishioner families from all over the world.
Hundreds trickled in looking for seats for Mass. Parishioners say the crowd nearly brought them to tears.
“We are just thrilled to have an opportunity to share this with people and to invite people to come join us,” said Larry Nolte.
Organizers say they love what the Archdiocese of St. Louis Mass mobs are doing.
“So parishioners can experience Mass the way it was intended, which is with the church being filled from pew to pew with people interested in coming together in faith and community,”said Lindsey.
The parish has served as the long-time St. Louis headquarters of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart. The Franciscans arrived in southern Illinois from Germany in 1858 and five years later started the parish with the help of a group of hardworking German immigrant parishioners from the neighborhood.
The parish is well-known for its service to the poor and includes outreach ministries such as the St. Anthony Food Pantry and St. Vincent de Paul Society. It also is known for its Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil Masses, and a Corpus Christi procession in June, which was started by Franciscan Father Vincent Halbfas more than 130 years ago.