Published in The Beacon, September 19, 2013 http://editions.us.com/thebeacon_091913/#/8-9/
ST. MATTHEW THE APOSTLE PARISH
335 Dover Chester Road
Randolph, NJ 07869
Bishop Serratelli Celebrates 25th Anniversary with
St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Randolph
Marking the culminating event of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, Bishop Serratelli officiated noon mass on September 15 at the vibrant and close-knit Randolph Church.
Bishop Serratelli opened his Homily with a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, who said, “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Bishop Serratelli pointed out that the invitation from God is no different – Jesus says that God’s love is so strong that despite our weakness and sins, God guarantees his love for us. However, it is not automatic – we need to enter His house, penitent. St. Matthew the Apostle Church has been God’s house for 25 years, a source of works of charity, community involvement, and warm compassion, offering a ready welcome and comfort in God’s embrace. The Bishop reminded us that only when we forgive and welcome others generously do we exercise our right to take our place at our Father’s table, where there is always dancing and much rejoicing! His closing words a meaningful, yet humorous reminder of the rest of the day’s festivities.
After mass, there was a short reception in held at the church where families enjoyed light refreshments with a slideshow of photographs taken over the last 25 years. As former Bishop Frank Rodimer predicted, when he delivered the then-new church’s building dedication homily in 1994, “United now in this beautiful place of worship, this parish is meant to give life, to be a life-giving Spirit of God. In this Church, you are as close as possible to the altar. You are close to each other. God is in your midst.” The parish family of St. Matthew’s has embraced his words and has striven to carry out his mission.
Serenely reposing in the midst of arguably one of the most beautiful lawns in Morris County, St. Matthew’s the Apostle Church is architecturally modeled on the design of Our Lady of the Lake, Church, Sparta. It’s Southwestern style, open floor plan, warm beiges and spectacular wood-paneled vaulted ceiling creates a calm and uncluttered backdrop for the warm and welcoming attitude of the parishioners.
St. Matthew’s congregation is comprised of many ethnicities and encompasses a growing number of young families, in addition to a strong established core. Offering many opportunities for spiritual growth and outreach, parishioners have established programs to reach out to God’s people on an international, national and local level. On the international level, St. Matthew’s supports the Missionary of the Poor Mission in Cap Haitian, Haiti, and recently has established funding to help educate children in the mission. Nationally, in addition to helping the recovery efforts for natural disasters, the parish conducts an annual Hope Builders mission trip to Appalachia in Kentucky, where youth and adults complete desperately needed home repairs for economically challenged residents. Locally, in addition to providing food and clothing to those in need within the area, they have adopted Holy Trinity Parish in Passaic, offering them ongoing support.
At home, there are many ways for church members to stay active and connect: women’s, men’s and teen’s faith sharing through annual retreats; Faith Formation classes for over 600 youngsters; extended Bible Studies; Music Ministries; a bi-annual Art Show with Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tasting; as well as numerous care-ministries.
“We are proud of our continued expansion of members and the services we offer the community and the world. And we honor our humble beginnings at the same time,” Father Daniel Murphy, Pastor said, referring to the 1988 creation of the parish as a spin-off of Resurrection Church, also located in Randolph.
St. Matthew the Apostle Parish was established in 1988, after Bishop Frank J. Rodimer invited the members of Resurrection Parish, close to 2000 families at that time, to form another parish in Randolph Township. A small group of 65 families from the Ironia area quickly developed a pilgrim community, working under the guidance of Father David McDonnell, founding pastor. The new parish of St. Matthew’s celebrated its first Mass on June 24, 1988, in the cafeteria at Ironia School, the date of the fiftieth anniversary of the Diocese of Paterson.
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.
Plans to construct the church began in 1990. By March of 1992, committees formed to oversee the first phase of the building. Phase 1 was to include the worship space, one meeting room, office space, a vesting sacristy and the Pastor’s office. Finally, having grown to 260 families by then, parishioners gathered at the property on Dover-Chester Road on Sunday, November 21, 1993, to bless and break ground for the building. In August of 1994, the parish family spent the weekend raking topsoil in preparation for planting what is now a spectacular lawn. Two more weekends in the fall were devoted to installing trees and shrubs. The glorious grounds parishioners enjoy today were a labor of love completed by the founding families! On October 9, 1994, Bishop Rodimer dedicated St. Matthew’s Church in a sacred and joy-filled ceremony.
Now, the church, so lovingly nurtured by its parishioners, is joyously celebrating its 25th Anniversary with nostalgia for the past and anticipation of an exciting future. Father Dan Murphy noted that, “As we just take a moment to review the accomplishments listed above and so many more too numerous to mention, it is a testimony to our commitment to Christ’s call to be as His Body on Earth, the Church. May the future only challenge us to be even more in response to the call of Christ to be His Body.”
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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.