St. Matthew Parish was incorporated on December 2, 1922. Archbishop James J. Keane appointed Father Daniel Mulcahy as the first pastor. The initial congregation consisted of approximately 30 families. For almost two years, the families gathered for Sunday Mass in a small dining room at the Sisters of Mercy Sacred Heart Convent (located on the campus now shared by Mount Mercy College). This early association with the Sisters of Mercy is one that continued as the Sisters taught in our grade school and have supported our parish and community in a variety of ways over the years.
In 1924, Father Patrick Behan was appointed pastor. At that time, the property from First Ave. to A Ave. and from 23rd St. to 24th St. was chosen for the permanent site for the parish. The location was selected since the area had not yet been extensively developed as a residential district and there were no parochial schools nearby. A temporary structure was built by the men of the parish to serve as a church and parish hall.
The parish continued to grow and on September 26, 1926 the first permanent church and school buildings were dedicated. The church had a seating capacity of 360; and the four Sunday Masses were usually filled to overflowing. When the school opened there were forty students who were taught by three Sisters of Mercy.
Monsignor James K. Kearn became pastor in April 1934, and the first associate pastor, Rev. John Ryan was appointed in 1936. By 1939 school enrollment had grown to almost 200 students in grades 1-8. At that time, the teaching staff consisted of five Sisters of Mercy and Father Ryan.
Expansion continued with an addition to the school in 1950. In September 1955 construction began on the present church building. Monsignor Kearn sang the first High Mass in the new church at the Midnight Mass, Christmas 1956. The building was dedicated May 30, 1957 by Archbishop Leo Binz. Another addition to the school was completed in 1964.
Monsignor Kearn retired as pastor in 1966. He was succeeded by Father Louis McDonough (1966-1973), Father Ardel Sodawasser (1973-1983), Father Gerald Condon (1983-1993), Monsignor Robert Hogan (1993-1999), Father Mark Osterhaus (1999-2010), and Father David Beckman (2010 – 2016). Father Steve Garner was appointed pastor in July 2016 and continues to serve our parish.
The parish has continued to grow in the number of members as well as in the programs and activities sponsored. In May 2005, with space at a premium and the current facilities in need of general improvements, the parish embarked upon a comprehensive plan to address the parish’s long-term needs. As a result, a three phase project known as “Renovate and Renew” is currently underway as our parish plans and builds for the needs of future generations.
There are approximately 1,200 families are members of St. Matthew’s Parish.