My current ministry

I am a Roman Catholic priest, ordained to the priesthood in 2004. I have been a member of the Legionaries of Christ since 1991, but am now in the process of incardination in the archdiocese of Boston. I am currently the parochial vicar of Holy Family parish in Gloucester, MA.

Parish work is a new experience for me, since in the Legion of Christ my ministry was mostly academic – I spent my 3 years of “apostolic internship” as a teacher in the Legion’s novitiate in Brazil, and from 2001-2010 I taught philosophy (principally, philosophy of science and philosophy of nature) at the Legion’s formation center in Thornwood, NY. It’s one thing to be in a classroom lecturing on Logical Postivism, or giving lessons of Gregorian chant, and another to be officiating at baptisms, weddings, and multiple weekend Masses – or at a hospital bedside, praying with a young couple as the husband cradles his stillborn baby’s body in his arms and silently weeps. Not that the two kinds of ministry are incompatible, but I was used to doing the former, and now and mostly doing the latter. It is a very enriching experience! However, sometimes I do miss the intellectual stimulation of studying and teaching philosophy.

Another novelty of parish life has been to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. I did this at least once a month during the year I spent at St. Patrick’s parish in Newburgh, NY (2010-2011), and it is both beautiful and thought-provoking. It seems to me that there is a striking contrast with the Novus Ordo in the ambience and the implicit sense of what the nature of the Mass is (even though on paper the basic theology is all the same). It has me thinking a lot about what the ideal Mass should look like, and what is or is not appropriate in both the EF and the NO. I have a great appreciation for the Novus Ordo as well, and I like what Pope Benedict has said about “mutual enrichment” of the two forms.

14 Responses to My current ministry

  1. CMSmith says:

    I chose you as one of 15 bloggers to pass the Versatile Blogger Award to, it’s kind of like a chain letter, so feel free to accept this dubious honor or not. In any case, I wrote a small blurb about you and put your link on my page today. Maybe someone will visit. You can read about it here —

    • Thank you very much! I appreciate it, although I don’t think I can “formally” accept the award, because of having to pass on to another 15 blogs. However, I think the “seven random facts” idea sounds like fun, so here they are anyway, as random as can be both in order and in content:
      1. I collect interesting rocks (particularly crystals and fossils).
      2. I enjoy canoeing, as long as the canoe stays right side up.
      3. When in school as a kid, besides being interested in the priesthood, I considered being an artist or a scientist.
      4. I lost the diocesan spelling bee when I was in parochial school by misspelling “guarantee”. My brother had won two years in a row, if I remember correctly.
      5. Someone once set a fire under the window next to my room. He was one of my students when I was teaching in the novitiate in Brazil. He also set a fire in the laundry room under the clothes shelves of the novice master and his assistants, and then next to the room of one of them. When we figured out who it was, two of us had to take him to the bus station to send him home. The bus was late – it arrived at around 4AM. That was perhaps the longest night of my life. I hear he is now a Pentecostal preacher; I hope he only figuratively sets his congregation on fire.
      6. I am a perfectionist.
      7. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the world would be a better place if we abandoned the “liberal” vs “conservative” labels, for a variety of reasons. However, if I had to label myself, I’d say I’m an intellectual conservative with a liberal heart, which makes life interesting.

      • Gail Green says:

        Wow! Good thing we didn’t know about the arsonist back then! I’d’ve come down there and ‘rescued’ you, regardless of your age or status or desire to be rescued! OK, maybe not, but I’d’ve wanted to! Love your comment on his current employment.

  2. glen morrison says:

    Hi Father,
    Wecome to Gloucester. I am not a parishioner, but I have a great love for St. Ann church from my time spent working in Gloucester. I certainly hope you will consider with Fr. Kiley’s approval, celebrating the extraordinary form at St. Ann. There is really nowhere available on the North Shore. Sometimes Fr. Barnes in Beverly celebrates it but not regularly he is still learning the rubrics. Good luck with your ministry. Father Kiley is a great man. He gave me my first confession and first holy communion 33 years ago.

    Glen Morrison

  3. Olivia says:

    Very interesting facts Fr. Matt. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  4. CMSmith says:

    We were in Gloucester once. I think we took a whale watching cruise there if I’m not mistaken. Loved it. Good move. Hope your transition is going smoothly.

  5. gingerinness says:

    Hi Fr. Matt, I thank you for putting these sermons up. I use togo to daily mass, but had a difference of opinionwith a popular priest.whom locals believe is no less than a god. so, I got burned at the to speak. I find these email sermons, so helpful now!!

  6. Hi Fr. Matthew. Just cliked on your Perpetual Learner blog and I hope to carry on reading more homilies. God bless, Abba’s Kid. PS. Where in Spain did you live?

  7. Michael Chatman of the McGonnells says:

    On one of your photos was tha of St Johns’ Middletown, Armagh Ni.Ireland have you links with this Church? I have a special reason for this request as it relates to a personal pilgrimage in March.

  8. Irish Spectre says:

    Fr. Matt, as summer residents of Rockport, we attended several of your Masses late last season, and met you once. This time of year, we typically can barely wait the kids’ release from school for the northerly migration to Cape Ann for the season; your presence gives us that much more reason for happy anticipation. Presumably the daily 9:00 has continued in Rockport. …see you there!!

  9. Jean-Marc Bélanger says:

    Hola Padre!

    Just listened to your latest homily, thanks for making them available. Your homilycasts have given me the idea of doing the same thing here at my home parish in Lethbridge. Please pray for God’s will to be done, I’m unsure whether our pastor is up for the idea, though the permanent deacon seems intrigued.

    Gracias padre y unión de oraciones.

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