Mass Mob arrives at Little Flower in Richmond Heights

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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Students at Little Flower School explained that being planted right in the middle of a neighborhood is what makes their school appealing.

"Everybody knows everybody, and they're all friendly to each other," said sixth-grader Hunter Mueller, whose family has been part of the parish for nearly 80 years. And for the record — Mueller, who is in the same class as his first cousin Sophia Mueller, has only a 10-minute commute by foot.

After a recent all-school Mass, sixth-graders at the Richmond Heights school were all abuzz as they spoke about hosting the next St. Louis Mass Mob on Sunday, Sept. 17. And they will be hosting — quite literally. The class of 17 has been tasked with "leading" the Mass, including serving as lectors, gift bearers, servers, candlebearers and greeters.

The St. Louis Mass Mob is a series of Masses that brings people together for worship and to raise awareness and appreciation for some of the city's most historic churches. Churches in the archdiocese have been hosting Mass Mobs since April 2015, drawing about 400-500 people on average.

This will be the first time students will lead a Mass Mob. The parish has a tradition in which each class takes a turn once a month hosting a regular Sunday Mass, said principal Andrew Long.

"The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of our students to be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor, and enriching our society," he said. "Our student-led Masses provide just one of many opportunities for spiritual leadership for all of our pre-Kindergarten through middle school students."

Founded in 1925, Little Flower was named after St. Therese of Lisieux, who was nicknamed the "Little Flower." The parish was founded in the same year as her canonization, making it one of the first churches to be named in her honor.

Archbishop John J. Glennon had purchased 25 lots in Richmond Heights' Westmoor Park subdivision to become the site for the church and school. In the early years, the property included a frame school and church, which was replaced several years later by a brick building.

The current church was completed in 1949. It was unusual for several reasons. First, it was the first church to be erected in St. Louis County after World War II. The French Norman design also was one of the most unusual church designs of its time. Circular in design, the altar is on a center platform, with the pews completely encircling it. A wide ambulatory around the circular portion of the church leads into four chapels named after St. Therese, the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and All Souls.

The church also has a dome measuring 97 feet in diameter. At the time, it was believed to have been the 10th largest and thinnest dome in the world. But as Little Flower students attested, the dome also keeps them in line during Mass.

"It has a bit of a whispering wall effect," said sixth-grader Analise Jacknewitz. "You can't misbehave here."

With 125 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, Little Flower is quite proud of its tight-knit community. "You're with the same class through every class, and we're all best friends," said Analise.

Joshua Saeger echoed many of his classmates in explaining that he's looking forward to welcoming hundreds of visitors for the Mass Mob. "This is a good chance to show people our church," he said. "It really is unique." 

>> Mass Mob

WHERE: Little Flower Church, 1264 Arch Terrace (at Boland Place) in Richmond Heights

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 17

MORE INFO: A reception will take place afterward. Parking is available on the church lot and surrounding streets. It's recommended to approach Boland Place from from Wise Avenue or Laclede Station Road. Overflow parking will be directed toward AB Green Field and The Heights community center. Shuttle service will be available. 

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