GRANDVILLE, Mich. — It was another empty service inside of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Grandville on Sunday morning. However, on the outside, well over 100 cars filled the parking lot watching the Mass on Facebook live.
"I had no idea," said Fr. Chris Rouech.
After the final blessing came the surprise of cars blaring their horns to attract Father's attention.
"You have to hold back tears," he added, "just with the support from the community."
The parishioners made the surprise celebration for both Fr. Rouech and Meghan Schaut, the music director at the parish.
"It's humbling," he continued, "I just wish everyone could feel this loved and cared for, that's my wish. That others that might not get the attention and love they deserve or need as a beloved person of God can have the same experience."
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Fr. Chris hasn't seen many of his parishioners for almost two months.
"I've seen them on a screen but it's so different to see them here in person and to see how much the kids have grown is a surprise, too."
And Fr. Rouech admits he isn't one for the spotlight.
"My birthday was always kept pretty quiet and on the down low, that's the way I've always preffered it," he smiled.
Despite that, he and Schaut are both extremely thankful to everyone who came out to make their day so special in such a tough time.
"This is a supportive community," said Fr. Rouech, "to come together to celebrate but also when people are suffering."
Expectations may not have been high going into the day but Father Chris says this is a birthday he'll never forget.
"This is even better than the birthday where I got my Spyder bike with the banana seat and the sissy bar," he laughed, "I will think about this for a long time."