Saint Matthew Parish was established by Bishop Daniel J. Gercke of Tucson on December 20, 1939. Father Willard David Kinney was appointed the first pastor. The first Mass in the parish was held in the Capitol School auditorium. Construction on the church building was begun in 1940 and the first Mass in the new church was Midnight Mass, Christmas 1940. Bishop Gercke dedicated the new church on December 29, 1940.
Saint Matthew School was opened in September 1943 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Dubuque, Iowa. That first year there were 64 boys and girls in grades 1-4. In 1944, 150 children attended eight grades. The school was begun in barracks-type buildings located where the school playground and parking lot are now located. The present school building was completed in the mid 1940’s. The Franciscan Sisters of Joliet, Illinois and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary served as teachers and administrators of the school until 1999.
Father Kinney left in 1949 to become a Trappist monk and Father Paul Lawrence was appointed the second pastor on September 14, 1949. Under his leadership, the convent and rectory were built. In 1961, Father Thomas Lambert was appointed as pastor. Father William Mitchell became administrator in 1962 and was responsible for establishing the CCD program at Saint Matthew’s. In 1964, Father Francis Murphy was appointed pastor and moved ahead with an improvement program and reorganization of parish societies. Father Cornelius Moynihan was pastor from 1969 to 1972 and succeeded by Father Thomas O’Dea. The Marist Fathers took over the administration of the parish in 1974 and remained until 1993. Father Raymond J. Ritari was appointed pastor in 1994.
Since 1993, there have been two phases of renovation to the church and installation of a new plaza and fountain. The parish hall collapsed and a new hall, named San Juan Diego Hall, was completed in 2001. The former convent has also been converted into the Centro Soledad Faith Development Center. Father Raymond J. Ritari is the current pastor. Ministries include Faith Formation, Social Outreach, Pastoral Ministry, Adult Prayer Group, and Young Adult Groups. Saint Matthew Parish currently serves 1,200 registered families.
History & image cited from: Avella, Rev. Steven M.- General History, and John Hanley- Parish History. The Dicoese of Phoenix- Encountering the Living Christ. Strasbourg - France: Editions du Signe, 2009. 191. Print.
Mission Statement / Declaración de Misión
We, the baptized, are called to work together, through the practices of Stewardship and Evangelization, as one body, with ONE VOICE. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we choose to give witness in word, worship, action and service to the Gospel of Justice with faith, hope and peace.
Nosotros, los bautizados, somos llamados a trabajar juntos, a través de la práctica de la Corresponsabilidad y Evangelización, como un cuerpo, con UNA VOZ. Guiados por el Espíritu Santo, elegimos dar testimonio en palabra, culto, acción y servicio al Evangelio de Justicia con fe, esperanza y paz.