CLEVELAND - While flash mobs have been popular in recent years, some northeast Ohio church-goers are taking advantage of that popularity to fill the pews at Cleveland's inner-city Catholic churches.
Parishioners are using social media to organize "Mass Mobs" to get people to visit historic and unique places of worship.
"It's a broad invite to ask people to experience or re-experience Mass," said Cleveland Mass Mob organizer, Stanislav Zadnik.
Cleveland's first-ever "Mass Mob" was held Sunday at St. Casimir Church at 8223 Sowinski Ave. in Cleveland.
Church officials estimated nearly 500 more parishioners than normal showed up for 11:30 a.m. Mass.
"My spirit became lifted and I saw the people's smiling faces as they were coming in," said St. Casimir Church council member Joseph Feckanin.
The "Mass Mob" idea originated in Buffalo and has taken place in other cities across the country.
St. Casimir was one of the closed Catholic churches that reopened in 2012. Many parishioners, who grew up coming to St. Casimir, came back Sunday after many years.
"It's a great feeling walking in there," said Ken Sulik of Chagrin Falls. "You picture yourself as a young child walking down those aisles or sitting in the pews. It brings back memories."
Mike Kozlowski of Parma attended St. Casimir, when he was younger, whenever he visited his grandmother who lived near the church. He was grateful the doors of St. Casimir re-opened in 2012.
"I'm trying to get in touch with my Polish heritage more now lately and this was one of the things I wanted to see and I'm so proud that they kept it open," said Kozlowski.
Many attending Sunday's church service felt the "Mass Mob" idea was a success.
"I think it was a great idea and I hope that it brings people back to the Cleveland churches," said Wendy Sulik of Chagrin Falls.
"Good to know that people support the inner-city parishes, the ones that were closed and hopefully down the road all the churches that do this," said St. Wendelin parishioner Jim Stracensky.
The next "Mass Mob" will be Sunday, April 27 at St. Barbara Church located at 1505 Denison Ave. in Cleveland. Mass starts at 11 a.m.