Originally founded as a parish for German immigrants, St. Anthony of Padua Parish continues its mission today as a sanctuary for immigrant families from all over the world.
The south St. Louis parish, founded in 1863, will be the next host of the St. Louis Mass Mob on Sunday, Nov. 12. Started more than two years ago, Mass Mobs have been hosted at parishes across the Archdiocese of St. Louis with the purpose of bringing people together for worship and to raise awareness and appreciation for some of the city's most historic churches. The gatherings have drawn about 400-500 people on average.
St. Anthony of Padua today consists of families with ties to the original German parishioners. Staying true to its immigrant-friendly roots, the neighborhood has a growing number of parishioner families from all over the world, including Mexico, Latin America, Eritrea, Burundi, Nigeria, Belize, Philippines and elsewhere. Visitors will find a rich diversity in faith traditions, said St. Anthony's pastor, Franciscan Father Michael Fowler.
"We are excited to share the rich and diverse tapestry that is St. Anthony of Padua Church," he said. "Our hope is that all who join us for Mass Mob XV are initially inspired by the Romanesque architecture, original art-glass windows and striking sanctuary, but that they will ultimately be uplifted by the strong sense of community and inclusivity that is our modern parish community."
The parish has served as the long-time St. Louis headquarters of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart. The Franciscans arrived in southern Illinois from Germany in 1858 and five years later started the parish with the help of a group of hardworking German immigrant parishioners from the neighborhood.
The parish is well-known for its service to the poor and includes outreach ministries such as the St. Anthony Food Pantry and St. Vincent de Paul Society. It also is known for its Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil Masses, and a Corpus Christi procession in June, which was started by Franciscan Father Vincent Halbfas more than 130 years ago.
Mass Mob XV
WHERE: St. Anthony of Padua Church, 3140 Meramec St. in south St. Louis
WHEN: 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 12; A reception will be held in the parish hall after Mass, and church tours will be offered. Donations of personal care items, such as diapers, socks and gloves, to the St. Anthony Food Pantry are welcome.
MORE INFO: St. Louis Mass Mob is on Facebook. St. Anthony of Padua has a website at www.stanthonyofpaduastl.com