25th Church Anniversary Picnic

335 Dover Chester Road
Randolph, NJ  07869

St. Matthew the Apostle Parish 25th Anniversary Mass and Picnic Celebration

What started out as a humble congregation of 65 families in a school cafeteria has, over the last 25 years, blossomed into a vibrant and welcoming parish of over one-thousand families.  On Sunday, June 23, 2013, St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Randolph, commemorated the  25th Anniversary of its founding with a mass celebrated jointly by Reverend Daniel Murphy, current pastor of St. Matthew’s, and Reverend David McDonnell, founding pastor, now of Our Lady of the Lake, Sparta.  Retired Assistant Pastor Msgr. Peter McHugh and Father John Andrew Connell (recently retired from Resurrection Parish), and full-time Deacon Ed Keegan, joined them on the altar.  Following the 11:00 mass, Parishioners continued the festivities with a picnic on the church grounds.

Father Dave and parishioners at the Picnic.

Father Dave and parishioners at the Picnic.

Founding Pastor Father Dave McDonnell reminisced during his Homily, recalling how in 1988, Msgr. Martin Rauscher of Resurrection Parish in Randolph had such faith in the expanding Roman Catholic population that he gifted $20,000 of that church’s 50/50 profits to its daughter parish, which had not yet been given a name.

For six years, the fledgling church met in Ironia School.  Each weekend, parishioners created a sacred space in the cafeteria, stowing everything back in the school closet after mass.  It was a “no frills” church, but those early members got used to it and loved it.  When the new building was finally ready, parishioners gathered the chairs, songbooks, vestments, candles, etc. and processed down Dover-Chester Road, from “Our Lady of the Cafeteria” as it was lovingly called, to the sparkling new St. Matthew the Apostle Church building.

As the opening hymn proclaimed, “All are Welcome!” at St. Matthew’s, establishing the theme for the day.  Father Dave pointed out that if Christ had asked the early members of St. Matthew’s, “Who do you say that I am?” the answer would have been, “You are the one who unites us and gives meaning to what we do.”  He read a note from an early parishioner who described a church in which “the language of love, faith, and care transcends all barriers.”  And that, Father Dave said, is what makes St. Matthew the Apostle Parish so unique and enduring.

Melding the past, present and future was Father Daniel Murphy’s goal in arranging the events of the Anniversary Mass.  Following the Homily, four children who celebrated their First Eucharist this spring lit candles placed in the four corners of the church, echoing Bishop Rodimer’s consecration with holy oil during his original dedication ceremony in 1994.  Then, Trudy Dancsecs, Barbara Jablonski and Loretta Dougherty, three founding members of the church, read the petitions.  Former Deacons Tom Raymond, Bill Peters and Jack Dugger, along with St. Matthew’s full-time Deacons Jim Hackett, Larry D’Amico, and Rich Brady were also in attendance, as was Seminarian student Paul Tomczyk, who is on his way to Catholic University in September.

As always, St. Matthew’s choir complimented Mass, along with the Bell Choir and the children’s choir, who sang “All God’s Children” by S.K. Albrecht.  After communion, the full church choir performed a glorious rendition of “Let Everything That Hath Breath” by J. Ames, to a long round of enthusiastic applause.

Randolph Township Town Council Member and St. Matthew’s parishioner Al Napoliello, concluded the ceremony by reading a Proclamation from Mayor Tom MacArthur.

After Mass, parishioners and guests gathered on St. Matthew’s grand lawn to enjoy burgers and dogs and many delicious salads and desserts.  Children marveled at a magic show and hopped enthusiastically in sack races and other games, while adults ate and mingled in the delightful weather God provided for the day.

A formal observance of St. Matthew’s anniversary is planned for September 15, 2013, when Bishop Seratelli will join Father Daniel Murphy to celebrate mass.  The festivities will conclude with a Gala Dinner that evening.

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St. Matthew the Apostle Parish Church, Randolph, guided by Reverend Daniel W. Murphy is a vibrant and active Roman Catholic community that warmly welcomes all believers in a spirit of hospitality and serves over one-thousand families in the Randolph area.  The Parish community supports a number of local, national and international outreach programs including the Missionary of the Poor Mission in Cap Haitian, Haiti; Holy Trinity Parish in Passaic, NJ; and an annual Hope Builders mission trip to Appalachia in Kentucky.  St. Matthew’s is located at 335 Dover Chester Road, Randolph, NJ.  Please contact our parish office for more information, 973-584-1101.

Contact: Janeen Sharp, Public Relations St. Matthew the Apostle Parish, janeen325@gmail.com or janeen.sharp@stmatthewsrandolph.org, cell 973-219-1346.


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