Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Basilica of St. Mary employees say it’s the busiest Easter season they’ve ever had.
“We have more people than we’ve ever had before,” said Director of Liturgy Johan van Parys. “I would say every time a new Pope comes along, there’s a renewed excitement.”
At the basilica in Minneapolis — the oldest basilica in the United States — signs adorned the sanctuary’s doors, saying the room was full. So, many stood, some by the walls, others stood a few floors below.
“We were in the basement in the standing room only,” said attendee Renee Hillesheim.
That seemed to be the case for many at the 9:30 a.m. service, who closed their hands to pray while on their feet.
“I come all the time, but you can see there’s just some people who come for Easter,” said Gregg Miskiel.
Kimberly King, who converted as an adult, says with current social and political issues, there’s a lot for Catholics to think about.
“With that and the Pope and all the challenges in our society, I think there’s a lot going on in a lot of our minds so we’re trying to figure out how to deal with that so hence the increase in attendance,” said King.
Whether it was just the white smoke, the hope is that in the spirit of the season, there will be renewal.
Miskiel says he hopes the new visitors in the crowd “return, that they’ll keep coming back. Not just at Easter and Christmas, but all the time.”
No final numbers yet on attendance, but church workers say they printed 2,500 of the church programs Sunday, which is twice the normal amount.