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Philly Catholics join 'Mass Mob' trend to support churches (St. Francis Xavier)
cna ^ | March 16, 2014 | Kevin J. Jones

Posted on 03/16/2014 10:01:29 AM PDT by NYer

Credit: Ben DiFrancesco.
Credit: Ben DiFrancesco.

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 16, 2014 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have planned their first “Mass Mob” in the north of the city, seeking to rally scores of people to a beautiful but sparsely attended church.

“It’s an opportunity for people from all over the archdiocese to come together as a community,” Mass Mob Philly organizer Ben DiFrancesco, a 28-year-old software engineer, told CNA March 14.

“It’s an opportunity for people to enjoy these big, beautiful, old church buildings that they maybe normally don’t get to see at their regular parish.”

DiFrancesco is one of the organizers who are using social media to encourage as many people as possible to attend Mass at St. Francis Xavier, The Oratory, in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood on the morning of March 23. They are asking attendees to arrive at 11:15 a.m., 15 minutes before the Sunday Mass begins.

DiFrancesco said he was inspired by news reports of a similar endeavor in Buffalo, N.Y.

“It really struck me as a great idea that could work equally as well in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” he said. “Call it a movement of the spirit or whatever, but I talked it over with people and they gave me encouragement to give it a shot.”

Several dozen people have responded to the idea. As of the afternoon of March 14, over 50 people had RSVP’d at the Mass Mob Philly Facebook event page.

St. Francis Xavier is DiFrancesco’s home parish. The church building was built in 1898.

“It’s just a beautiful building in a wonderful neighborhood,” he said, praising its three large rose-shaped stained glass windows, its high columns and arches, and its artwork.

He said the church is like many city churches in Philadelphia and around the U.S. where shifting demographics mean “the building really doesn’t match the size of the congregation anymore.”

“It was built in a time when the neighborhood was pretty much all Irish immigrants. It had a huge Catholic population,” he said. “It was built to serve that kind of congregation.”

“There’s plenty of space when you go to Mass in a beautiful building. It’s a good opportunity for people to come together and enjoy that.”

DiFrancesco said that the Mass Mob is intended to support the local parish community and boost “parish morale” by filling the pews again. It could also boost donations to the collection plate.

The church is served by priests with the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, commonly known as the Oratorians. The priests were “enthusiastic and willing” to help consider the logistics of the event.

He also had special words for anyone considering starting a Mass Mob in their own diocese.

“The first thing I would say is ‘go for it!’ Don’t hesitate,” he said. “Have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.”

“Just put together the online and social media assets and just start getting the word out,” he said.

Social media have played a role in both the Buffalo and the Philadelphia Mass Mobs. DiFrancesco said the Mass events can help counter the “general sense” that social media in modern life “water down or dilute our authentic friendships or relationships with people.”

“This is one of many ways that we Catholics can use these things as tools not to replace authentic face-to-face relationships, but to bring people together in reality, in community,” he said. “I think that we can demonstrate that in a way that the world needs to hear.”

DiFrancesco suggested new Mass Mob organizers contact him or the organizers of the Buffalo event, who had advised him on launching his own effort.

The Philadelphia organizers work with the parish staff to ensure they can accommodate a larger than usual congregation. They plan to select other churches for future Mass Mobs by means of public votes on social media.

“There are plenty of beautiful churches in Philly that we could use,” DiFrancesco said. “I think that as we move forward, the goals will evolve and we’ll get a clearer sense of what people are getting out of it.”

The Mass Mob Philly website is

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Worship

1 posted on 03/16/2014 10:01:29 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...
DiFrancesco is one of the organizers who are using social media to encourage as many people as possible to attend Mass at St. Francis Xavier, The Oratory, in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood on the morning of March 23. They are asking attendees to arrive at 11:15 a.m., 15 minutes before the Sunday Mass begins.

St. Francis Xavier Church


2 posted on 03/16/2014 10:03:11 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer


3 posted on 03/16/2014 10:07:15 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Kid Shelleen


4 posted on 03/16/2014 10:22:48 AM PDT by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
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To: NYer

Well, I suggest they have the priest treat the Eucharist as if it is God, since it is. Otherwise, there will continue to be a huge lack of interest. The problem isn’t the congregation, the problem is their lack of formation.

If mass was reverent, people would believe there was a reason to attend. I make it my business to go and to ignore all the distractions and just focus on the Eucharist, but the insults to Our Lord every Mass I attend are maddening.

People are not interested in attending a Mass in which there is no one of authority present, convinced of the presence of Jesus.

They see no reason to spend two hours per week, not even per year, to go.

I went to mass on Christmas, in the northeast. I was with four families. Every one of the families had kids, every person has had all the sacraments, except matrimony. Two out of four married in the Church. Every one had Catholicism in their families going back to St. Patrick, who converted their ancestors in the late 300s - Their Catholicism goes back seventeen HUNDRED years. Seventeen hundred years, and I knew all of their parents, grand parents and great grandparents, or knew of them. They all attended Mass weekly. Every healthy week of their lives, some live to the age of 90 and wen to church ever week.

None of these people I was with went to mass the last Sunday of Advent. Non e of the kids knew we were in Advent or what Advent was. There wasn’t a crucifix, an image of the Blessed mother, and image of Jesus in the house. a ten thousand square foot house with two Range Rovers, two Porches, a Saab and a Volvo in the driveway. Not a rosary in the house, except for mine.

The only people who wen to mass on Christmas were the hosts, who couldn’t let me go without going themselves, and their kids were so tortured going to mass that I am still in amazement. the rec room at the church where this overflow mass was, was so hot from being unusually full, that I watched for fainters. Not one of the working billionaire CEOs in that room had enough familiarity with the workings of that Church to open a window.

The priest mad a joke of communion.

What is the story?

The USCCB is so busy writing to the president about what a horrible country the US is for not taking care of illegal Mexican immigrants, who, they are too ignorant to realize, BTW, would seal abortion into our culture with their friends, the democrats, that they can’t see this situation.

they come up with this lame idea to bring people to this Church? Pretending what? That if they play better music than the Baptists that they’ll attract people? That if the Priest makes better jokes than Jimmy Kimmel people will come?

They’ll ignore the organ pipes and the communion rail. they’ll put out of their minds that the greatest music came from and about Catholics - Mozart, Lizt, Handel, Greig, Bach. that there are seven versions of Ave Maria I can think of just sitting here.

THey’ll spend ten minutes of the congregation’s otherwise attentive time gathering scantily clad women and denim wearing men up onto the altar to distribute to them communion before anyone ever gets up.

No teen in their right mind will truly be impressed with this rejection of the reverence that once was.

They altered the Mass a few years ago, pretending they were doing enough to correctly interpret Vatican II. Fail.

The Masses that the men attend around here are the Latin Msses, Novus Ordo and Tridentine. THey don’t care, they are looking for reverence.

And they will never like the music, and they will continue to loathe the handshake. men are not convinced if the hierarchy is not convinced. And kids will not be convinced if their dads are not convinced.

And that cycle will continue until it is fixed. But these dads I visited have absolutely no authority over their kids nor their wives, because they give no example themselves of ceding to the authority of God. And their wives certainly won’t.

5 posted on 03/16/2014 10:37:49 AM PDT by stanne
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To: Salvation

It would be even more beautiful if the main altar were used as it was intended when the church was built.

When was the last time that the side altars were used?

6 posted on 03/16/2014 10:54:47 AM PDT by 353FMG
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To: NYer

“The church is a beautiful 19th century structure with a fairly large pipe organ and wonderful acoustics and reverberation! We have an experienced, classically trained choir director and organist who are volunteers, and we sing traditional Catholic music. All are welcome! Over the past two seasons, we’ve gotten great reviews from the parish and have had opportunities for “special” events with instrumentalists (including Easter with timpanis and trumpet) that won us a standing ovation. “

Well... there you go. OK

but, the choir is in the back of the church, in the choir loft, if it was built before the onslaught of the architects in the 1970s

It’s not a Broadway production.

Please pleas please please don’t applaud during or after mass.

It is for God, not the congregation. WE sing WITH the choir. It is not a show. angels are present during Mass. All of our guardian Angels are there. with us. they are not off doing something else. They are on the altar. The organist is not playin gfor us, she is playing a song that was written in the 1700s and it is not for revenue, it is for God.

Please don’t applaud.

if the priest will face the east, as this oratory is surely built, and prey with the congregation and stop with the handshaking after the consecration while the lord is on the altar, and stop encouraging people to turn their backs on the consecrated Eucharist, the priest will have gone a long way to convincing the congregation that he is convinced that Jesus is on the altar. and if he will have boys only on the altar and distribute Communion on the tongue at the altar rail, and quit giving the job to lay people, then the congregation will come back, convinced that the power of our Lord is greater than anyone in the room.

7 posted on 03/16/2014 10:57:49 AM PDT by stanne
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To: stanne

“The problem isn’t the congregation, the problem is their lack of formation.”

Then the problem is the congregation. There is barely a congregation within the defined borders of these parishes. They have all moved to the suburbs or died off. Many of the rest have simply left the practice of the faith. You can’t form them if they aren’t there.

8 posted on 03/16/2014 12:25:46 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: NYer
This is amazing, NYer!    This is my wife's old Parish (and Parish "grade school") in Philly, when she was growing up.    (We used to live in Philly.)

"St. Frannie's" is within a very short walking distance of the "Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul", where Archbishop Chaput now makes his home (as well as the "Archdiocese of Philadelphia").

There is also a small Chapel just a couple blocks away from St. Francis Xavier Church, where the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (aka "The Pink Sisters") have a perpetual adoration Chapel.    Here are a few links for them:

For another story about the "Mass Mob", here's another local Philly story about it at

Another shot of St. Francis Xavier Church in Philadelphia

Thanks for posting this story, NYer!

9 posted on 03/16/2014 5:32:31 PM PDT by Heart-Rest ("Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee." - St. Augustine)
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To: NYer
What a gorgeous church.

And to think about how much money Cardinal Mahoney blew on the Taj Mahoney bomb shelter. Disgusting.

10 posted on 03/16/2014 5:38:24 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: Heart-Rest

Thank YOU for sharing the relationship of this parish to your family. With Chaput in this diocese and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters in daily prayer, this Flash Mob may very well spur renewed attention to an architectural treasure, where the Divine meets man. Will keep this parish in my prayers.

11 posted on 03/16/2014 8:28:51 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: stanne

You speak the truth!

12 posted on 03/17/2014 7:06:03 AM PDT by NewCenturions
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