A warm welcome to our Bishop Checchio who is presiding at our 60th Anniversary Mass today!
Celebrating 60 years of the founding of our parish is a time for us to stop and thank God, and all those who went before us, those who made this beloved parish what it is today. I was struck by the initial struggles our founding pastor Fr. McKenna and the original parishioners had to go through, as I was reading the history of our beginnings, like this passage:
“As with many new parishes, this parish began without money, land or a home for its pastor. The late Rev. John J. Reilly, pastor of St. Augustine’s in Franklin Park, a classmate of Father McKenna’s offered the hospitality of his rectory and the use of his offices. During November 1962, Father McKenna purchased an addressograph and other office equipment. Ben and Elly Beckage graciously offered their home and an office was established. Envelopes were printed by Lovell Claypool and the church bulletin was prepared by Elly. On Monday nights volunteer women came in to prepare the mail. Father McKenna lived at St. Augustine’s for a year until a home on Easton Avenue was purchased as a rectory for the parish.”
This is only a glimpse of what they had to cope with in the beginning years. It is important for us to know more about their struggles and challenges that they bore happily and patiently for the community of St. Matthias. It is good to hear of their efforts in getting the two pieces of land that make up our present campus. The first piece of 12 acres was donated generously by Mr. Nathan Koslow of the Amwell Estates, and the second piece of 10.8 acres was bought from Mr. & Mrs. Albert Helmstetter. We are so very grateful for these and the many other challenges and sacrifices the pioneers made to make this into a well established Catholic stronghold with a strong sense of Catholic identity through its witness to Jesus Christ, with numerous ministries and a thriving school. Kindly read more about our early history in this bulletin. So let us celebrate with a sense of joy and gratitude and look forward with hope for greater things for us. As you already are aware, our church building needs some renovation that is long overdue. Hence as announced earlier, I, together with our Pastoral and Finance Councils, would like to hear from you what you think our building/renovation priorities are. Please respond to the survey at www.stmatthias.net/ParishSurvey
Yes, taking care of our church building is very important. But what is even more important is the church community. Even though we have 3000+ families on record, we know many of them do not attend church for various reasons. Many of them are plainly hurt by the church and so left the church; many feel that they are simply ignored by the church. Can we reach out to all of these brothers and sisters? They are part of this community. You can make them know that we miss them and they matter to us.
I wish to start a renewed effort of evangelization – a mission that the Lord Jesus has given to all of us. The word ‘Evangelization’ can be scary for many of us. Don’t be. Evangelization begins with a simple invitation that you and I can give to an individual or family to come to our church. I wish to prepare us all for this mission with follow-up steps soon. In the meanwhile, let us rejoice and thank God for the blessings of 60 years to our wonderful community of St. Matthias.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal