The Marconi-based Catholic church’s new parochial administrator has Philly roots.
During youthful considerations of what life might yield for him, Matthew Brody entertained the thought of becoming a doctor, a vocation that would have found him bettering bodies. Straight out of high school, however, he elected to save souls instead by pursuing the priesthood. A member of the frock for almost five years, the 30-year-old is experiencing his initial assignment as a parochial administrator, with St. Richard of Chichester Roman Catholic Church, 3010 S. 18th St., as the beneficiary.
“My roles here are to care for and to love people, and I know already I’m among wonderful individuals and amazing families,” the newcomer said from his Marconi-based rectory. “There’s been mutual encouragement for all of us to grow, and that’s a great gift to have.”
The Northeast Philly native came to maturity in Montgomery County and, despite his interests in medicine and psychology, he felt a calling to religious life early on. Envisioning that he could certainly fare well as an administrator in his birth city one day, he had no preconceived notion that he would inherit such a role at quite a young age. He has often called on his vibrancy since arriving at St. Richard last month and has reveled in his fortune in coming to know the parish.
“Next to nothing,” he said with a smile when explaining what he had known of the 2100-families-strong location prior to planting an ambitious seed there. “Not being too familiar, though, has helped me to start to gain a better grasp of what people need from me so as to help them and me to know how we’re called to serve.”
Given that his South Philly sojourn’s genesis coincides with Lent, Fr. Brody has found that the flock is quite eager to discuss spiritual renewal. In the first outreach that he made to believers through the parish bulletin, he noted, “May the Lord pour out His abundant blessings on us as we seek to know Him more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly.” These last few weeks have intensified that message, and he hopes that the gamble he feels everyone is taking on him as a rookie parochial administrator, which is essentially a precursor to becoming pastor, will pay off.
“I’m a pretty voracious learner, so I’m enjoying my education,” Fr. Brody said of familiarizing himself to the parish, which includes St. Pio Regional Catholic School, whose 305 learners helped him to learn about his new turf by giving him a sports swag bag and restaurant gift cards that he has delighted in using.
Though he is pacing himself in learning about his haunt, he already has an eye on 2024, which is when the parish will celebrate its centennial. Stating with a laugh that his upcoming goal is to have a goal about what his first major steps might be, Fr. Brody knows he has many new confidants he can consult.
“We’re all on a path to becoming better people,” he said. “I value that I can count St. Richard’s as a destination on my journey.”