Modern Day Saint

Father Matthew Siekierski

On the way to sainthood?

1950-2003

Father Matthew Siekierski was born in Goodman, Wisconsin on February 28, 1950. After attending High School at Sacred Heart Seminary in Oneida, he attended St. Norbert College, also in Wisconsin, St. Mary’s College in Kentucky and finally St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. After his ordination to the priesthood on May 14, 1977 Father Matt held positions as assistant pastor and pastor at various parishes in Maryland until he became pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in 1996. Sacred Heart is the second largest parish in Southern Maryland with two nursing homes, a hospital, a jail, a Catholic school, and a Carmelite monastery. Father Matt was pastor until he died suddenly of a heart attack on August 3, 2003.

In addition to administering this large parish, Father Matt was the vicar for Southern Maryland serving as an advisor for the Archbishop of the Washington DC diocese. He was also the founder of the Prince George’s County Serra Club and chaplain of the Southern Maryland Serra Club. In this position he was quite active in encouraging vocations for the priesthood.

He was a unifying factor in the community from an ecumenical point of view. He always looked at the community as a whole and tried to bring the community in the various parishes closer together. This was most evident after the tornado that cut a path through downtown La Plata and completely destroyed the Archbishop Neale Catholic School. Sister Helene Fee, the school’s principal said he was a tremendous source of inspiration to students and staff. She said, “When the tornado left our school in shambles Father Matt gathered the facility, cried with us, prayed with us, and lovingly directed us to return to our mission. He has been our rock through this tumultuous time, and the tremendous void that he left will be filled by those of us he inspired.” Some comments of others that knew him were: “He has given us a supreme example of picking up and pressing on. He marshaled everyone in the community…Catholics, Protestants and even Mormons. You could tell with the many projects he was in just how much he loved being a priest. The kind of leadership he brought to the community and the kind of joy he brought to the job is going to be very, very hard to replace.”

Father Matt’s leadership is credited with the rapid rebuilding of the school and the huge community effort behind the rebuilding. This was evident from the support of the Waldorf Jaycees who “adopted” the school, pledged money and supported an enormous fund raiser; the Jesuits from Chapel Point also gave a large donation, and the Knights of Columbus who bought a new scoreboard for the gym. Parents and parishioners provided uncounted hours of moving and construction work as well as implementing other fundraisers such as selling bricks from the old building for $100 each to contributors.

As Father Matt wrote in the book marking the groundbreaking on September 8, 2002, “Archbishop Neale School is not about buildings. It is about people and the community.” Father Matt was not only an inspiration to many to rebuild after the tornado, but he was an inspiration to holiness in his parish before the tornado. It was unfortunate that he did not live to see the completion of his school.

Part of the holiness he inspired resulted in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. I am always impressed when I see a parish that can provide two people on a 24/7 basis for perpetual adoration. It truly demonstrates the holiness of such a parish. Father Matt was proud of this fact and told me that implementation of the Chapel had already resulted in one miracle which was in the process of verification by the Church. Let us pray that Father Matt will have some more miracles and that he may eventually be recognized for the saintly priest that he was. As one of the parishioners said of him, “He worked himself to death.”, but one of the deacons replied, “No, He worked himself into Heaven.”

Jim Fritz

 

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