The eight-county Diocese of Buffalo, in a restructuring, has closed nearly 100 churches in recent years as attendance and financial support has declined and priests have retired. Days after the Mass mob came an announcement that 10 suburban Catholic schools would close after this school year.
Byrd, 46, plans about six Buffalo Mass mobs a year. Chris Clemens and Luke Myer made the 90-minute trip from Rochester and are already promoting the idea in their city, where they blog about upstate New York's religious and spiritual history and sites.
Byrd, an activist in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood where he grew up, said there has been interest from other cities, too, and he hopes the flash mob social media hook will resonate with a younger generation for whom the pull of family tradition has relaxed.
Said Byrd, "They may think it's cool."