(By Greg Witul) The average 11 AM Mass attendance at St. Thomas Aquinas is 60 people, but that numbered swelled 10 fold on August 3 at Buffalo’s Mass Mob visited the historic Irish parish.
In a change of pace, the Buffalo Mass Mob, headed by Christopher Byrd, Danielle Huber, Alan Oberst, and Gregory Witul selected St. Thomas as the destination instead of the organization’s traditional voting process. “Saint Thomas was in the running for our forth Mass Mob and after 3,993 votes were cast, All Saints won by nine votes. After seeing that we all agreed that it was too close a call and St. Thomas would be our next stop.” said organizer Christopher Byrd.
To welcome the large crowd, who traveled from across the Niagara Frontier and as far away as Michigan and Mississippi, the church had a special musical arrangement that included a flute, piano, trumpet, cello, guitar, classical guitar, bass guitar, percussion and the church’s organ as well as the choir and junior choir. Leading the service was Father James Judge who opened his homily with the line; “It looks like 1957 out there, there’s not a seat in the house” and concluded the Mass, by thanking the Mass Mob organizers, saying they must “have halos around their heads.” After the service, the parish provided all in attendance with a self-guided tour book of the church and encouraged everyone to explore church and to them enjoy a picnic sponsored by Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, Consumer’s Beverages, and Tops Markets.
Speaking about the history of the church, Mass Mob organizer and historian Gregory Witul said, “St. Thomas Aquinas is one of Buffalo’s great Irish parishes. Established in 1920 by Father Regan, St. Thomas grew out of the closure of All Souls parish on Mystic Street and territory from Holy Family and St. Teresa’s. The current church based on the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin, Rome was designed by George Stickle of Erie, Pennsylvania and completed in June of 1951. A lot of the church’s beauty comes from the multicolored crab orchard stone and limestone that faces the building. On the inside, the magnificent Stations of the Cross were crafted at the San Pietro Mosaic Factory in Roma and the windows are unique in Buffalo as they are the only set created by famed Dutch stained glass artist Joep Nicolas.
The next Mass Mob will be held at Assumption Church in Black Rock in conjunction with the parish’s International Harvest Festival on October 5th at 11 AM.