Organizers sought nominations from the public for churches on the Mass mob website and put the top three up for a vote. Online voting begins this week for the next mob, planned for March 23.
"It's wonderful," said Lutz, who learned his church had been chosen two weeks before. "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.
"And," he added, "if it helps us pay a few more bills ..."
With every pew occupied, later-arriving worshippers stood against the back wall, reminding 88-year-old parishioner Elizabeth Barrett of the way it used to be in the church she has attended since birth, a block from her lifelong home.
"You had to get here very early when I was young, it was so crowded," she said. "And now there are just a handful. It's hard to accept, but you have to."
During the sign of peace, Lutz spent several minutes breezing up and down aisles, smiling and shaking hands. He invited all to a nearby community center for a pastry and coffee after the service.
Several visitors arrived at the church with cameras, aiming them at brilliant stained-glass windows imported from Austria, the church's pride and joy, and the ornate marble altar, the likes of which are seldom seen in the more modern suburban churches built today.
"It's wonderful to see the old churches. They're beautiful," said Barbara Mocarski, who came from nearby Lackawanna to be part of the mob. While the sanctuary is largely well-preserved, areas of cracking plaster and water stains show a need for costly maintenance.
"Seeing the community together and caring about them, I was really happy to hear about it," Mocarski said.
Karen Huber of the suburb of West Seneca hoped the Mass mob idea would bring more young people back to church so that crowds would again be the rule, not the exception.