ST MATTHEW THE APOSTLE CATHOLIC CHURCH
We, the members of
We are led by a group of very dedicated, active, devoted workers, who are backed by the elders who offer a rich experience of living their Catholic faith. We have worked diligently to thrive in the midst of poverty. We also provide resources to the needy of the area through our Chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. We regularly host outside groups who wish to grow in their understanding of our living situation and to do what they can to help alleviate poverty.
Perhaps our greatest treasure lies in our children and youth. We provide religious formation through a Children’s Liturgy of the Word on Sundays, host and support De La Salle Middle School, and provide a variety of programs for the children of the parish and of the neighborhood.
As a parish, we realize that we face a number of
significant challenges in meeting our stewardship obligations. We are small,
and hence are limited in our resources, both personal and financial. We are
situated in the Ville Neighborhood of North St. Louis City, surrounded by
poverty, unemployment, discouragement, oppression, violence and crime. There
are many children in our neighborhood with little supervision or focus, many of
whom are not well-served by the public educational system. In all of this, one
of our challenges is to do our part in confronting the unjust social, economic
and educational disparity that exists in the
As adult members of this Parish Community, we realize that we still have room to grow in our understanding and practice of our Catholic Faith. We have spiritual and educational resources available through the presence of Jesuits in the parish, which we have not yet fully tapped. Our challenge is to realize that we can still grow as adults, and to be willing to invest the time and energy needed for that growth.
St. Matthew’s has a rich heritage of independence, with a variety of groups striving mightily on their own to meet their goals and to keep the parish alive. In our efforts to become financially self-sustaining, we have hosted many fundraising events that have strained our limited human resources while failing to meet our financial goals. At this time in our history, our challenge is to move beyond independence to authentic interdependence, where we respect those who exercise leadership, both laity and clergy. This means that all members of the parish are challenged to take a true and profound ownership together of the parish and its needs and resources. It also demands of us an increased level of communication within the parish and its organizations as well as with the other churches and institutions in the neighborhood. It could well mean sacrificing some traditional events and activities so that we can have the energy to make our larger efforts more effective with greater parishioner participation. We also want to be open to greater cooperation in the neighborhood as we deal with the issues we share with other congregations in the neighborhood.
As we reflect on this reality in the fall of 2008, we see ourselves as called to glorify God and to grow as a community of faith both in word and in deed. We acknowledge that we are called to be a stewardship parish, serving God by the way we spend our time, our talent and our treasure.
The foremost call is to deepen our spirituality. Our principal focus is our Eucharist, where we gather to celebrate the central Mystery of our salvation. This celebration must be supported by personal prayer in the life of each parishioner, which in turn is enhanced through retreats, the Spiritual Exercises, Bible study and other similar endeavors. We renew our commitment to do what we need to do to grow in our understanding and practice of our Catholic faith and its traditions.
We understand that as the adult members of St. Matthew Parish, we are called to reach out to one another as parishioners and to those in our families and in our neighborhood in many ways. Our deepening spirituality, if it is authentic, will manifest itself in action, and will also be strengthened by the actions we take.
We reach out to
our families and friends by supporting their presence with us at
o We see ourselves as called to reach out to our neighborhood by inviting those with no church home to join us for worship. This includes the families of those involved in our youth events (Back to School, Halloween, etc.) as well as the families of the students at De La Salle.
o We also have an opportunity for evangelization as we deal with those who receive assistance from us, either through the St. Vincent De Paul Society or through the Thanksgiving and Christmas Baskets. We also need to continue to personally welcome all visitors at Mass, and to augment this welcome by developing information packets to present to all our visitors.
o We see a further opportunity by following up with all those who have indicated an interest in the Catholic faith through the efforts of the Society of Our Lady of Peace in this neighborhood.
o We reach out to our parish youth through our Sunday Liturgy of the Word for children, in which we are called to involve all the children of our families each Sunday.
o We reach out to parish youth and neighborhood youth through our Youth Ministry programs, which we are called to support with all aspects of stewardship.
o We also reach out to the youth of our parish and our neighborhood through the De La Salle Middle School. We see ourselves called to develop a strong and mutually supportive relationship with this important apostolic outreach from our Catholic Community.
And finally, in
our outreach we are uniquely positioned to provide opportunities to those from
other parts of our metropolitan area, and beyond, to join us in our mission to
serve those in greater need, and to bridge the profound societal disparities
and divisions by inviting those on the other side of the divide to join with us
in this effort. We see ourselves as called to publicize this opportunity
In the area of parish financial sustainability, we see ourselves as called to the following:
o We are responsible for the support of our parish by individual financial contributions according to our means.
o As a Parish Community, we are called to combine our time and talent by supporting a select number major fund raisers. We ask that every parishioner and organization faithfully and prayerfully consider a commitment of time, talent and/or treasure to support at least one of these fund raising events.
o We are also called to do a better job of coordinating these fund raising efforts, and of showing our appreciation for those who volunteer their time and talents. All need to realize that they are welcome to participate, and that there is a significant place for each person in these efforts.
In all of this, we see ourselves called to renew our ownership of our faith, and of our faith community. Each of us individually and all of us together are called to fulfill Jesus’ command to “Go, make disciples of all nations.”
October 5, 2008