Church Tour
Saint Matthew Roman Catholic Church was dedicated by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Anthony F. Tonnos, Bishop of Hamilton in 1993. It is a wonderful blend of traditional and contemporary church design. This imposing structure rises high above its neighbours as a reminder of our prayers rising to God. Its many windows wash the interior of the church in sunlight. They allow the gathered people of God to see the connection between what happens inside and the world around us.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) reminds us that, “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows.” [#10] Therefore, the place for community’s celebration of the Eucharist needs to reflect this reality.
The church is modeled on a “basilica” style, with the roof being in a cruciform shape, the traditional design for Christian churches. Within its walls nearly one thousand people can be seated during the liturgy, however, often many more are standing along the aisles and in the narthex. The hidden structural supports afford everyone a clear and unobstructed view of the Sanctuary and the entire Assembly area.


Narthex
Upon entering the building one is ushered into the narthex or gathering area. This space is used to greet one another before and after liturgical celebrations. It is also an area which holds a great deal of information about our parish community - its life and activities. The narthex has a cloak room and the restrooms are also located here.

Nave
The Council also reminds us that when it comes to the liturgy, “the faithful should be led to take that full, conscious, and active part in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (1 Peter 2.9, 4-5) have a right and to which they are bound by reason of their Baptism.” [#14]
As one enters the main worship area called the nave one notices that the seating is arranged so that everyone faces the Table of the Word and the Table of Eucharist, while still being able to see one another. This space “looks” right when it is filled with people gathered for worship. One may take a seat in the fixed pews. The principal posture for Christian worship is standing. We stand in the presence of one we wish to honour and serve, just as the presiding priest stands. Another common posture is kneeling. We kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer as a reminder of our need for humility before God.
On the walls of the church you will notice the stations of the cross. These are fourteen stations or steps on Christ’s journey to the cross on Calvary. Often, especially during Lent, the faithful go to each station and meditate on an event of Christ’s passion.
A statue of the Madonna and child is located on the South-west wall of the church. This lovely statue carved by Aachim Klaas, a local artisan, depicts the Virgin holding a toddler Christ who is reaching up to embrace his mother. The statue is carved of lindenwood.
Next to the statue of the Virgin with child is the Reconciliation Chapel. This small room is the place for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession. Here penitents have an option of speaking with the priest from behind a screen or sitting face-to-face.
On the South-east wall is a painting of an older St. Matthew composing the gospel.
On the main wall of the Sanctuary is the major work of art entitled “Christ the Teacher”. This work, also by Aachim Klass, is carved of lindenwood and stained in pastel colours. It depicts Christ seated and teaching, reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. In this piece He is surrounded by the evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - and a crowd of disciples. This beautiful carving reminds us that the teaching of Christ comes to us through the evangelists, and through the generations of believers. In turn we have an obligation to pass on His teaching to others.
The Table of the Eucharist is located directly below and in front of the artwork. This beautifully carved Altar Table was originally commissioned for the Cathedral of Christ the King in Hamilton by Bishop Paul Reding (Bishop of Hamilton, 1973-1983) by a local Dundas artist. No longer needed by the Cathedral, following its major renovation in 1982, this Table was retrieved by the founding pastor of Saint Matthew Church, Fr. Leonard Strohmeyer, for use here. This Altar Table is a visible connection with our Cathedral which is the “mother” church of the Diocese of Hamilton. Carved in the three “arms” which support the mensa are a wheat and grape motif.
Near the Table of the Eucharist is the Table of the Word. The prominence of this table or ambo expresses the renewed emphasis on the importance of the Word of God in Catholic liturgical practice. “The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way the more significant part of the sacred scriptures will be read to the people over a fixed number of years.” [#51] With that mandate of the Second Vatican Council, the Word of God is proclaimed in every celebration. At Sunday Mass the book of God’s Word is carried through the gathered community with great reverence. The passages of Scripture are proclaimed with true faith and devotion. From the ambo the presider also preaches the Word in the homily of the Mass - making connections for us between God’s Word and our lives.
On the other side of the Altar Table is the presidential chair. This is the place from which the priest prays and presides over the celebration. At times this chair is elevated and moved to the central access of the nave - particular when the bishop presides as a reminder of his role of presiding over the local church.
The tabernacle, in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved for Communion to the sick and for prayer, is located on the North-west side of the sanctuary. Over the tabernacle is a crucifix and a lighted candle - which signifies the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The baptistry is located on the North-east side of the sanctuary. Here children and adults are washed in the waters of baptism. The paschal candle stands near the baptismal font and burns during baptisms, funerals, the celebration of Confirmation and during the Easter season. Its flame is taken from the fire blessed at the beginning of the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday night). The ambry houses the Oils used by the church throughout the year for its celebration of the liturgy - the Oil of the Sick used to anoint those who are ill; the Oil of Catechumens - used to anoint adults who are preparing for baptism; and the Oil of Chrism, consecrated by the Bishop, used to anoint the newly baptized, those being confirmed, and the hands of priests in their ordination.


Vestments

In the celebration of the sacred liturgy the presiding priest wears vestments which are rooted in the long history of the Catholic church. The priest wears a long white garment, an alb (from the Latin - albus - for “white”) over which is worn a stole and chasuble. The stole worn by the priest is a sign of his office in the church. The stole and the chasuble (worn over all the vestments) match in colour and style. There are four principal liturgical colours. White is worn during the Christmas and Easter Season, for baptisms, funerals, weddings, and other joyful celebrations. The colour green is used during the portion of the Church year known as “ordinary time.” It is traditionally associated with hope. Purple is worn during Lent (the forty day period before Easter); and a lighter shade of purple is used during the season of Advent (four week period before Christmas).


Sacred Vessels

In the celebration of the liturgy there are a number of sacred vessels used by the people of God. Among these are the chalice and paten; cruets; and the altar cloth. The chalice and paten are used to hold the wine and bread to be used in the Eucharist. They are normally made of a precious metal as a sign of respect for the sacred elements they hold. Often the chalice will have additional decoration and detail. Cruets are containers for wine and water to be mixed in the chalice. Often the cruet containing the wine is a large crystal decanter so that the wine can be plainly seen. The altar table is covered with an altar cloth like a dining room table cloth.

Conclusion

“From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the church, is a preeminently sacred action.” [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #7]
Our parish community is very proud of its place of worship, however, more importantly we are proud of those “living stones” who gather here each week to be built into God’s house by their hearing God’s word and the nourishment of the Eucharist. Our church building stands as a sign of the people who gather faithfully together each week, and often during the week, to share in Christ’s life.
The principal beauty of the Catholic church is the hospitality of its members, the eagerness with which we hear the Word, the joy with which we receive the Eucharist, and the love which they take from this place to transform the face of the earth.