Stories of St. Matthias


Home Sweet Home
An interview with Brian Jens, St. Matthias’ new Director of Lifelong Faith Formation
By Larry Hanson, a member of the St. Matthias Communications Committee

Brian Jens has gotten the educational base to be able to handle his responsibilities as St. Matthias’ new Director of Lifelong Faith F
However, he has turned to renowned speaker and pastor John C. Maxwell for inspiration on how to dispense that knowledge.
Maxwell is credited with saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
 Brian Jens
As someone who will be instrumental in forming connections with members of the community and helping to build the Catholic fundamentals of the parish, that is something he has taken to heart.
“The faith and content aspect is very important to what we teach, but if we’re not willing to connect with the people we’re working with, it makes no difference what we’re teaching,” Jens said. “It’s going to go in one ear and out the other. From the first moment they walk in the program, it’s about getting the family’s attention, getting to know who they are, getting to see what their needs are and meeting them where they’re at.”
To long-term members of the parish, Jens should be a familiar face, as his family has been involved in the parish since he started attending St. Matthias in pre-K and graduating in 2004. He went on to attend Pius XI High School, graduating in 2008, before obtaining his bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Cardinal Stritch University. During his time at Stritch, he served on parish council as the youth liaison.
“The word I guess I look for is nostalgic,” Jens said of his homecoming. “It’s very surreal. The first week I was here I got a chance to walk through the school and, lo and behold, I met some of the teachers I had when I was in grade school here. It feels like you’ve never left. A lot of the families that are strong in their faith are ones that were here when I was on parish council in college. It means something to be back with families you know and you love.”
Before returning to his “home parish,” Jens was the youth minister at St. Robert Bellarmine in Union Grove.
In his role at St. Matthias, Jens is looking to bring back the mission trips for the high school students, noting how big of an impression they made on him about a decade ago.
“In order to grow in your faith life, you need to be pushed outside of your boundaries,” Jens said. “It’s when you allow your comfort zone to expand, and you get to see new opportunities that you allow your faith to grow.”
He will be instrumental in providing a base of knowledge for members of the parish, from helping kids prepare for baptism or first communion to adult formation.
“We teach the understanding of the purpose of reading the Bible habitually, praying habitually, things that as you continue to grow older, you have a good, solid foundation in your faith,” Jens said.
Jens said he is looking forward to meeting new members of the parish and rekindling relationships he had when he was here before. He gave a list of icebreaker topics, things that he’s interested in, including sports, fantasy football, video games and his love of singing, especially during Mass.


Serving the Lord in the Time We Have
An interview with St. Matthias’ new pastor, Fr. William Key
By Larry Hanson, a member of the St. Matthias Communications Committee

Having just celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest, Father William Key has gotten used to the various life-changing shuffles that go along with switching parishes.

Fr. BillFor him, St. Matthias, where he began serving in June, is the ninth parish he’s served at since he was ordained on May 24, 1975.

“I would say I’m more confident in my skills and what I have to do and what I am able to do today than I was three changes ago,” he said. “You pick up and leave the neighborhood you’ve lived in for years and move somewhere else,  that separates you from that.”

The first thing he has noticed about the parish is its sheer size.

“It’s a big place,” Fr. Bill said. “Twice the size as where I was previously. Although I did two languages; this is easier, it’s just one language.”

More like one and a half. He has used his sign-language skills during Mass. He also knows Spanish, German, Greek and Latin.

Raised in Kewaskum, he is also enthusiastic about skiing and golf.

He seems to be settling in after about six weeks in his new role.

“It’s new systems,” he said. “It’s whole new ways of doing things. Lot of stuff I have to get used to. Otherwise, the business of priest is the business of priest.”

He said his preconceived notions about St. Matthias have been pretty accurate so far.

“It’s kind of what I expected,” he said. “St. Matthias is very organized in many ways; it has to be when you have that many people. That’s helped a lot as far as figuring things out. I just have to ask why do we do this and how do I find that, but that’s typical.”

With such a large parish, there are some things he is trying to pick up on as fast as possible.

“I’ve trained the people here not to throw alphabets at me,” Fr. Bill said, noting the preponderance of acronyms that can crop up on a day-to-day basis. “Use last names, too, because you talk about Mary or John; I don’t know who Mary and John are.”

02_Vigil_0006One of the best ways to reach out to the community and neighborhood, and form a connection, is through the parish school.

Key believes the whole church, not just St. Matthias, could do a better job of selling itself to prospective students and their families.

“The school business is good business for a parish this size,” he said. “I think we have to find more ways for the school to be inviting more people. My impression is (the whole Catholic Church) has been sitting on their laurels. They think a cross on top of the building and an open school, and the people will come.”

He believes mailings, contacts with community members including those in religious education programs, and finding new sources of financial support are steps parishes need to take to expand the reach of their schools.

It’s no secret that Father Bill is nearing retirement age, but he doesn’t see the ninth stop in his career as a pit stop.

“I think people get nervous when they get an old priest,” Father Bill said. “I’m a few months short of retirement age. That doesn’t mean I have to retire. There must be something the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish here, through whatever time I have to serve here. Somebody needs to meet the kind of ministry service I bring. I may not know who those are, even when I leave in a few years. I’m not an interim. John the 23rd wasn’t an interim. He did great things in the time he had. We use the time we have well and we go from there.”

Stories of St. Matthias


Fr. Dave Cooper Says Farewell
Written by Larry Hanson, Communications Committee Member

When Fr. Dave Cooper retired from the priesthood and his 15-year tenure as priest at St. Matthias Parish on June 21, it was with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for being part of this community.Fr. Dave

“I feel privileged for the time that I had and the experiences I have had,” he said. “The people of St. Matthias have shaped me more than I have shaped the people of St. Matthias. It works both ways.”

His time as lead pastor was actually his second stint at St. Matthias. He served as associate pastor from 1981-90.

“I was sad that I was leaving,” Fr. Dave said. “I wish I didn’t have to leave. I really like it. The church was beautiful. Liturgy was a wonderful, and I thought, ‘I will never have it in my life again as good as I had it at St. Matthias.’”

He followed that with 10 years at Holy Assumption that he describes as a wonderful experience as the only priest on staff. However, as it was getting to be time to move on, he was looking for a parish like the one he had left at St. Matthias.

It turns out he got better than a parish like St. Matthias. He actually got to go back to St. Matthias itself.

“Everyone sort of gasped when they announced our new pastor was going to be Fr. Dave Cooper,” he said. “Then they started applauding. The 15 years I was here, in terms of working with people, were absolutely delightful. I would say I had wonderful cooperation. People were working together.”06_Vigil_0022

Among the top accomplishments he was proud of was the people he hired to be part of the staff, including School Principal Susan Booth, Pastoral Associate Jeff Van Dalen and Director of Administrative Services Mike Angeli.

He said Booth has grown into her role and is exactly what the school needs. He described Van Dalen as his right hand and the wisest thing he could have. He credits Angeli with helping to eliminate the parish’s deficit and praised his skills as a “people person.”

In addition to the recent hiring of Nate Friday as Director of Lifelong Faith Formation, Fr. Dave described the personnel moves as, “All of these things have proved to be worth their weight in gold. They all fit the bill. They were flexible and they could adjust to changing situations.”

As far as unfinished business, Fr. Dave said he doesn’t think much about that as he sails off into his golden years.

16_Vigil_0043“It’s not the unfinished business that causes me the sadness,” he said. “Obviously, there are some things I would have liked to have done. It’s like planting seeds. You plant some seeds and not all of them come up. Of the ones that come up, not all of them grow. Of the ones that grow, not all of them bloom. I’m very proud of what’s bloomed. As for the others, that’s in God’s hands.”

He said he doesn’t have any set plans for his retirement, but plans to take it on a day-by-day basis.

One other thing he feels a sense of pride in as he leaves is, “We do liturgy well. The feedback you get from people is, ‘Wow, this church rocks. I love the Mass. I love the singing. I love the music.’ We just hear that over and over and over.”

Which is, of course, the bottom line for a parish.

“That is the quintessential St. Matthias philosophy: If we get the liturgy right, we’re on the right path,” Fr. Dave said.

Why Do Catholics Say Amen?


Why do we say “Amen”?

Amen is to say “I agree” or to say “it is true”. Amen is a word of commitment to what has been spoken. When we conclude a prayer with “Amen” we are firmly and definitively agreeing that God’s will be done, that we give this prayer, this offering to God. Amen is used often by Jesus in scripture to emphasize that what he is sharing is the truth and the way. We often are witness to Jesus beginning or ending a parable with the words “Amen, Amen, I say to you,” which in turn tells us that “this is true, this is true, what I am about to tell you.” Amen is the statement of affirmation in our faith lives.

Adapted from “The Catholic Source Book” pg. 282, Revelation 3:14, John 3:3, Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27

2014 Annual Parish Report

Golden Jesus04/22/2015

2014 Annual Parish Meeting and Report

Thank you to all who attended our annual Parish Meeting and listened to the presentations about the finances and status of our parish for the 2013-2014 year. We have made many changes and improvements in the past year and are looking forward to a prosperous and healthy 2014-2015 year ahead.

If you missed the meeting or wish to view the handouts or the presentation please click on the following links:

2013-2014 Annual Parish Report

2014 Annual Parish Meeting Presentation

Why Do Catholics Pray To Saints?

St. Matthias Picture04/14/2015

Why Do Catholics pray to saints?

It’s a common misconception, Catholics actually pray with saints, not to them. Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you when you were having a hard time? Why did you choose to ask that person?

You may have chosen someone you could trust, or someone who understood your problem, or someone who was close to God. Those are all reasons we ask saints to pray for us in times of trouble. Praying with the saints help us to facilitate a conversation with God. The saints help us to see how the Gospel can be incarnated and lived out in many different ways and across various historical and social circumstances. These saints lived holy lives regardless of the situation, and we ask them to pray for us as they were living examples of the Gospel on earth.

Adapted from Catholic Online “Why do we pray to the saints and from “Catholicism” by Richard McBrien pg. 1113

2015 Vacation Bible School


2015 Vacation Bible School – Message Received, Hearing God’s Call:

logo 2015From 9:00 am to 12:00 pm each day from June 22nd – June 26th, 2015, the St. Matthias Lifelong Faith Formation department will be hosting its very popular 2nd annual Vacation Bible School (VBS). This year’s theme is “Message Received: Hearing God’s Call.” Registration material for the 2015 VBS can be found here.

This past year, students engaged in various activities as they explored the Gospel’s call to service our brothers and sisters. 55 students attended the 2014 VBS with great response.

Of the 2014 VBS, one student and his mom remarked that, “He wanted to be sure that he can attend again next summer and was sad that he ‘only has 5 more summers of bible school left.'”

While we do require a registration for VBS, VBS is free of charge for parishoners. For non-parishoners the fee is $20 per child for the week. Additionally, we do offer our Matthias Extended Childcare (MEC) during VBS for an additional fee.

Why Do Catholics Use Blessed Palms on Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday


Having just celebrated the beautiful mass of Palm Sunday, one might wonder, why do we even use Palms and process around the church on this day?

Palm Sunday dates back to 4th century Jerusalem. In this time, early Christians would celebrate Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem with the use of palms. This sentiment is echoed in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 21 when citizens place palm branches before Jesus both before his arrest on Holy Thursday and on his crucifixion on Good Friday.

The tradition continues today as we hold palms throughout the passion reading. This small sign of our faith acknowledges that “those same people who greeted Christ with shouts of joy on Palm Sunday would call for his death on Good Friday—it is a powerful reminder of our own weaknesses,” that we call to mind each Lent. Additionally, on Palm Sunday the presider blesses these palms. He does so because they are symbolic of Jesus’ life, his ministry and ultimately, his sacrifice. Because these palms are now blessed, we cannot simply dispose of them. That is also why we hold onto them until Ash Wednesday, when they are burned, and the Ashes are used to intern bless us.

It is this unending cycle that reminds us how we both praise Christ, and see his comfort when we are at our weakness. Palm Sunday reminds us of his power, his sacrifice, his humility and are relationship with him.

Finally, Palm Sunday is a wonderful reminder of how we continually work against sin, but regardless of our sin, that Jesus will always be there waiting for us, waiting to forgive us, when we are ready to accept his love.

Adapted from Scott Richert’s History of Palm Sunday on

Do see past questions answered in this series please click here.


Young Adults: Rooted in Faith, Living in Service


Young Adults: Rooted in Faith, Living in Service

Young Adults Rooted in ChristAll young adults in their 20s and 30s are invited to join us for our next event Rooted in Faith, Living in Service. The event is Saturday, April 18th at 7:00 p.m. in the parish hall at Our Lady of Lourdes parish, located at 3722 South 58th Street in Milwaukee.

During this evening, we will be enjoying delicious heavy hot and cold appetizers, quality craft sodas and desserts, as we seek to build our community and get to know our young adult family better through games, conversation, service, and prayer. As we engage in community and fellowship, we will be working together to truly make an impact not just on our young adult community but on the community at large as we make homemade fleece blankets for the homeless and poor of the The Gathering food pantry.

To help offset the cost of the food, beverages and service project, there is a $5 fee per person along with your RSVP. All young adults are invited to attend and join us for this wonderful evening as we begin our Easter season together.

Please RSVP to Nate Friday no later by Wednesday, April 15th by emailing him at or by phone at 414-321-0893 ext. 406. Preferably fees are paid in advance, but they will be accepted at the door.


Catholicism Video Series 2015



Catholicism Video Series

Give yourself and your faith a lift by joining us for the Catholicism video and discussion series.

The series runs the first Four Tuesdays of March from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in Steiger Hall Room 5. Each evening we will gather for prayer, the video screening on the topic for the day, discussion and reflections, as well as snacks and refreshments. What follows is a listing of the topics for each date in the series:

  • Tuesday, March 3rd – Amazed and Afraid: The Revelation of God Become Man
  • Tuesday, March 10th – Happy Are We: The Teachings of Jesus
  • Tuesday, March 17th – A Body Both Suffering and Glorious: The Mystical Union of Christ and the Church
  • Tuesday, March 24th – Word Made Flesh, True Bread of Heaven: The Mystery of the Liturgy and the Eucharist

Join us for one, a few or all of the evenings as we delve deeper into our Lenten journey.