Serving the Ville Community since 1893 ▪ A Jesuit Parish since 1959
Welcome to St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church! As many of you know, our parish began in 1893. Our current church building in not the original but was erected in 1906. As a bit of history, you may recognize its style as a blend of French Gothic and English. You may also recognize the four statues of the evangelists that adorn the outside of the building. And you may be able to recognize the biblical stories portrayed in the various windows designed by Emil Frei. But the true history of St. Matthew is not the building but rather the people who came to the building.
The original parishioners were Irish factory workers, and St. Matthew was one of several Irish parishes that grew from the original St. Patrick's at 6th and Biddle. As demographics shifted, the Ville neighborhood became prominent as a model African American community with construction of famous institutions like Homer G. Phillips hospital and Sumner High School. It wasn't until the 1950's that Fr. Craig, under the initiative of Cardinal Ritter, integrated St. Matthew. In 1959, Fr. Zimmerman was appointed the first Jesuit pastor bringing with him many of the parishioners of St. Malachy's Church when it closed. Since that time the parish has retained an identity as both African American and Jesuit.
Again, this history is more than place, it is the people. Our neighborhood struggles with poverty, decay and violence. Yet there is such strong tradition at St. Matthew that individuals come from all over the city to be a part of our community. Many visitors come to experience the place where their parents lived, were married, went to school. We have many who "come back" when a friend or family member is buried from our church. And of course we have many stories from our elders who tell us of the wonders and woes of raising a family in the neighborhood and at our church. These are stories of great faith and of great commitment to family and to church. It is my hope that you are able to witness not just the history in the structure of St. Matthew, but are able to witness the story in the people. Ask them and they will tell you that St. Matthew is more than a place; it is our home.