St. Matthew Parish was canonically founded in December, 1926. This sparsely settled parish was bounded on the south by Waveney Avenue and on the west by Nottingham and was without boundaries on the north and east.
The first parish building serving both as church and auditorium was at the corner of Harper and Buckingham.When Father James P. Welsh, the first pastor, was assigned here, only five homes were visible from the corner of Harper and Three Mile. Father Welsh moved into a house at 5966 Buckingham as the parish began its phenomenal growth.
The first parish Mass was celebrated on May 22, 1927, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, the day the parish has recognized as its founding.The real estate development south of Harper progressed more rapidly than that on the north, so additional property, the present site, on Harper between Audubon and Whittier, was purchased for the future development of St. Matthew Parish.
In 1930, after years of generous giving and fund-raising ventures, the first section of St. Matthew School (staffed by the IHM Sisters from Monroe, Michigan); a convent; and a new church auditorium were built.
Subsequently, a home adjacent to the church property was purchased for a rectory. Father Joseph Fillion succeeded Father Welsh in June of 1938, and he began paying off the accumulated debt due to these building ventures.
Father Fillion also started to save for a new church. By 1953 with $300,000 in hand, a Building Fund Drive was organized.
The response was generous, and ground was blessed and broken for the new church on October 11, 1953. Then Monsignor Henry E. Donnelly laid the cornerstone for the new church on June 27, 1954. Monsignor Donnelly, elevated to Bishop, succeeded Father Fillion as Pastor in 1956.
Construction continued; and in September, 1955, the building was completed. The new church was dedicated on September 21st, the Feast of St. Matthew, with 1 00 members of the clergy and a record crowd of parishioners attending. The first Mass in the new St. Matthew Church was celebrated on the following Sunday, September 25th.
Through subsequent history, St. Matthew Parish celebrated its 75th Anniversary with the theme: "What has been, what is, and what will be."
Click the photos below to view the Pastoral Timeline.
Check out these historical St. Matthew documents!
Dedication Booklet, September 1955
Golden Jubilee Pamphlet, 1977
Silver Jubilee of Dedication, 1980
St. Matthew School History
Retrieved from IHM Sisters website, ihmsisters.org.
(Out of date and in need of revision. Posted for historical purposes only.)