By Kelsey Durham
With the changing face of religion in the 21st century, one Bayside resident is trying to help restore the luster to some churches whose enrollment and financial situations have suffered in recent years.
Michael Cadigan, a student at the Catholic Newman Center at Queens College, has brought a grassroots movement called NYC Mass Mob to Queens with the goal of helping struggling churches regain members.
Each month, Cadigan will produce a list of the four poorest Catholic churches in New York City and the public can vote on them. The winning church will receive a visit from the Mass Mob, a large group of supporters who will attend mass at the church in hopes of bringing attention to the institution.
Cadigan said he was inspired to start the NYC Mass Mob, a play-on-words on the phrase “flash mob,” after hearing about a similar program happening in Buffalo. He said the movement in the western part of the state has already gained a large following, and he decided to try his hand at bringing the concept to the city.
“The idea just really captivated me and I figured I would try and start my own movement,” he said. “It sounds funny, ‘mass mob,’ but that’s what makes it interesting.”
Cadigan began going out into the community about two weeks ago and pitching his ideas to local churches to gauge their reactions and see if it was something church leaders would be interested in. He said the people he has talked to so far believe in his idea and think it will help churches in need.
“It’s a good way to show off churches that need a boost,” he said. “It raises money and awareness and inspires people to go back to their faith.”
After speaking with a local priest and obtaining a list of the poorest churches in the city, Cadigan chose the four at the top of the list, one being Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, to participate in his first Mass Mob. Starting in a few weeks, he said, the public can vote online for one of the four churches to get a visit once voting closes.
Cadigan said he is not simply trying to raise funds for any certain denomination of religion. To him, the idea behind the NYC Mass Mob is more about introducing people of all faiths to other sects and discovering other areas of religion.
“For example, there’s a pretty significant Korean community here in Bayside and I think the Mass Mob will show that the Catholic Church is inclusive,” Cadigan said.
So far, Cadigan said he has a large group of people who have joined his movement, and the Facebook page he set up for the NYC Mass Mob already has more than 100 supporters. When he is ready to launch the voting, those interested in participating can visit nycmassmob.com to cast their ballots.
Cadigan said he is hoping the movement grows in size and popularity as it continues and plans to visit one church every month, starting with smaller ones and working up to the larger churches in the city.
But for now, he said, he is simply looking to help someone in need.
“It’s an unconventional idea, but I think it’s intriguing and inspiring,” he said. “Hopefully, it makes people interested in going to church again.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at email@example.com.