How Did you arrive?
My First visit to St Matthew’s was in the early 1960’s. I was Walking down Carver street at lunchtime with a work colleague, when we were attracted to the porch by the Rood, which we could see from the pavement outside. I recall the church appeared to have been recently decorated.
Leaving the church to return to work, we set off walking on the opposite side of the road when we were both soaked! a door had opened to one of the existing houses of the time and a lady had emptied out the contents of her bucket just as we were passing. Realising the consequences of her actions she apologised profusely. My return visit to St Matthew’s came in 1964 when I accompanied Fr Donald Wheat (Now Fr Edmund Wheat of course) to attend the festival of Corpus Christi.
I first started coming to St Matthew’s when I moved to Sheffield over thirty years ago. I was glad to find a church with Anglo Catholic worship only one bus ride away but I didn’t get to know the congregation, as we were, as now, spread throughout the city and there were no refreshments after Mass and very few social events. All this changed in the early 1980s, when Fr Longworth tried to bring people closer together and the church rooms were opened. Lectures, discussions and meals at which all sorts and conditions of people were welcomed then became a regular feature of church life. I learnt a lot from Fr Longworth and became more actively involved, serving on the PCC and later becoming churchwarden tor three years, during which Fr Longworth retired and I was involved in the strange and fascinating experience of appointing a new vicar.
until I retired from social work six years ago I spent most weekdays surrounded by chaos, among clients and colleagues who were often at the end of their tether. Coming to St Matthew’s on Sundays was like arriving at an oasis :- a place of quiet reflection where the Liturgy and music were beautifully performed and people were kindly and. for the most part, cheerful and positive and able to laugh. It was a relief
to be able to be myself and I made a lot of friends As work became ever more stressful and early retirement became a possibility. I used to put in my application every March, only to take it out again after Easter, when, after listening to the Exultet, 1 felt I could cope for another year!
Now that I have retired 1 am able to spend more time at St Matthew’s. It has changed a lot in the past thirty years as, I suppose, have most churches. I cannot imagine children participating confidently in the Children’s Mass then as they do now and a stranger who wandered into a service out of curiosity would have had great difficulty understanding what was going on. Over the last few years contact with other local churches has increased and we have become involved in ecumenical projects like the soup run. We never meant to be exclusive thirty years ago but i think we were regarded as rather strange. Now we are treated as a “normal” branch of the community.
I didn’t find St Matthew’s – it has been my spiritual home since i was baptised by Father Ommanney on the 21st June 1930. Since then, it has been a constant support throughout my life, with the constant round of worship, the service of dedicated priests and the fellowship of many fellow pilgrims, some who I believe are now in the nearer presence of God and others still with us. I have so many memories of glorious worship and many joyful social events and celebrations. I remember the Nativity and Passion plays performed in church in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. My worst memory is of being unable to be married in St Matthew’s because it was being reordered after the fire in 1957. I went to mass in the morning before the daily work commenced and it was like a very dusty building site. It seemed much worse than our recent restoration.
have a very beautiful church which shows forth the presence of God in the city centre – as it has done for the last 150 years, through many trials and tribulations. I hope and pray that the witness carries on for many more years to come, God willing
Although I am a relative newcomer to St Matthew’s, I feel Like I’ve been here for always! I moved back to Sheffield and decided to look for a new church – I didn’t have to look to far! I walked into the porch of St Matthew’s and the door was opened for me by the sides person – this was Eve, who along with her own family and the church family, has become very special in my life. Later in that first week, I was on a bus and spent a few minutes weighing up whether the lady opposite was the person who led our prayers so thoughtfully on the Sunday. We smiled at each other and said yes it was me….. and so i got to know Joan Gill too. Very early in my attendance here, we had the splendid candle mass celebrations and rededication of the newly restored Reredos. After the parish lunch, I helped to tackle the veritable mountain of washing up. It was declared by Joyce that I must be a real member of St Matthew’s after this [ and a real member I have felt ever since!
I mention these early memories as someone who is now privileged to serve on the PCC and as a sides person myself. May all who come to St Matthew’s find welcome as I did- for at least the next 150 years!