Evangelization At America’s Largest Parish

“St. Matthew uses its ministries and activities to help parishioners find a smaller community within such a large church. Every one of St. Matthew’s groups is expected to hit three S’s: spiritual, social and service. That means that the pinochle group prays together before breaking out their decks and that members take a spot on the muffin rota for the church-run food bank. (At least one refrigerator I find in the complex is marked ‘MUFFINS ONLY.’)


Beyond the church itself the sprawling campus of St. Matthew look like any school or office building. Plain doors open to rooms with fluorescent lights. But in the otherwise anodyne hallways are huge posters of illustrations from the Baltimore catechism. They were taken from a donated catechetical flipbook and repurposed to give life to the corridors.

There is also a crucifix in every room—or nearly every room. Antoinette Usher, the facilities manager, explains that they always have to raid the meeting rooms for Veneration of the Cross services on Good Friday. ‘We couldn’t do it with only one cross, it would take forever,’ she tells me. So priests grab extras and station themselves around the church. It takes a little while for all the borrowed crucifixes to find their way back after the service.”

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