Lively spirit will usher in next Mass Mob at St. Augustine

Sid Hastings

A visit to St. Augustine's website reveals the parish has a "joyful spirit and soulful authentic liturgy."

That spirit also is the foundation for a flourishing outreach to the community that the parish is known for. Community service is a way in which they bring the love of Christ to the world.

A mainstay of the neighborhood that borders north St. Louis and Wellston, St. Augustine will host the next St. Louis Mass Mob, a series of Masses that has brought people together for worship and to raise awareness and appreciation for some of the city's most historic churches. Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, at the church, 1371 Hamilton Ave.

St. Augustine formed in 1992, the merger of St. Barbara, St. Rose, St. Edward the King, St. Mark and Notre Dame de Lourdes parishes. Msgr. Robert Gettinger (known by many as "Father Bob") has been pastor there since the parish was established in 1992; he's served in north St. Louis parishes for more than 40 years.

The historic Gothic church building dates back to 1907. Founded as St. Barbara Parish in 1893 for German-speaking Catholics, the church's foundation was closely associated with the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The fair touched off a real estate boom that sent home builders westward. The population near the church site at Hamilton and Minerva skyrocketed.

Trisha Manning knew St. Barbara Parish as a teenager and recently came back to the area, joining the parish earlier this year.

"It was always a parish where you walk in the door and you know that you're home," she said. "It's just a presence that you get walking in there. We have the most spectacular windows, and you sit there and take in this quiet beauty we have. The feeling is overwhelming."

Manning said St. Augustine is not just a parish -- "we are a church family."

The family aspect is evident through the outreach. For years, the people have distributed Christmas baskets, Thanksgiving turkeys (this year it was hens) utility assistance and funeral assistance through Father Bob's Outreach. The parish also has a St. Vincent de Paul Society and is associated with the St. Augustine-Wellston Center, which provides outreach in the community, said parish secretary Michelle Brown.

In October, the church's doors suffered damage at the hands of an arsonist, who caused damage to numerous churches of different denominations. The custom doors are in the process of being replaced, said Brown, who expressed her gratitude for numerous contributions the parish received to help pay for repairs.

Describing the parish as a "wonderful, joyous family," Msgr. Gettinger said everyone is welcome to experience the lively spirit and friendliness of the people. "Every Mass is a celebration -- rather than just a Mass to fulfill an obligation," he said. "I want everyone to feel welcome here."

Mass Mob

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 10

WHERE: St. Augustine Church, 1371 Hamilton Ave. in St. Louis 

Upcoming Mass Mobs

Mass Mob V: St. Augustine, Jan. 10

Mass Mob VI: St. Mary of Victories, March 20

Mass Mob VII: St. Rita, May 22

Mass Mob VIII: St. Cecilia, July 10

Mass Mob IX: St. Nicholas, Oct. 9 

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