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Meet Father Matthew

This Month's Stories

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Father Matthew Abu B. Cole, SMA is Sacred Heart’s parochial vicar. Fr. Matthew hails from Liberia and has long been a missionary, bringing the Word of God around the world. We asked Fr. Matthew a few questions, so the parish could get to know him a little better. Please join us in welcoming Fr. Matthew to Sacred Heart!

How long have you been a priest?

I have been a missionary priest of the SMA for 21 years. SMA is the Latin acronym for Societas Missionum ad Afros, an international Society of Catholic (Priest and Lay) Missionaries from around the world dedicated to spreading the Gospel in Africa and among people of African descent. The Society of African Missions (of no relations to the Missionaries of Africa) went to Africa in the 1800 s and since 1906 SMA missionaries have maintained presence in the Archdioceses of Newark (NJ), Washington (DC) and Boston (MA). 

What helped you decide to be ordained?

In 1981 I worked with (ELCM FM 97) the Catholic Community Radio in Monrovia now Radio Maria. There I produced a program called “Follow the Leader” based on Biblical precepts of leadership. From behind a microphone I found myself broadcasting to an audience of over 100,000 people, with no idea of who they were or what they looked like. This metallic interaction did not seem effective to me because the kind of message being conveyed was designed for real people not for a virtual audience. A personal touch was needed because through physical interaction you communicate better and effectively with people. I then felt the urge to reach out and touch my audience. 

I also very much admired the selfless contributions of those missionaries who came from abroad to Africa and built schools, churches and hospitals for the people in many African countries. These were the missioners who established the foundation on which the Catholic Church in Africa stands today, despite enormous personal risks and great sacrifices. My vision or motivation to become a missionary priest must have been stirred up by these examples.

How is Sacred Heart different from other parishes you have worked in?

As the ‘new kid on the block’ I think it is too early in the game for me to say. However, as a missionary, I have worked in many parishes and have found that people are generally the same everywhere. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Having said that I must admit that there are pastoral situations unique to Sacred Heart Parish that I find challenging and different from former parishes. I hope that I will be of help to Fr. Mark and his team in trying to meet the pastoral needs of this parish.

Has anything about Sacred Heart surprised you?

Yes, I’ve noticed some little surprises about Sacred Heart Parish: the name of the Parish is the same as my home parish where I was baptized; the Parish was established in 1906 the same year the Catholic Church was established in my country. Little things like these have surprised me and I said to myself how awesome a coincidence! Maybe as time goes on I may discover even more surprises.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at Sacred Heart?

Whenever I’m asked a question like this, I always borrowed these cherished phrases from Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta that say “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful” and “do something beautiful for God.” Honestly, I did not come with any ‘baggage’ so to speak.

There was a need for someone, a priest, to assist here at Sacred Heart Church, Moline and I was asked if I could be of help and I said yes, so here I am. 

Is there any message you wish to share with parishioners who may not have met you yet?

I am happy to be here and look forward to working with you and to serve you. I believe in the power of prayer. I also believe in examples. I would like to be an example for others to follow, please God. As St. Paul would say “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). 

I’m available and open to meet with anyone personally - one on one - to make better acquaintances. Thank you!

Our thanks to Fr. Matthew for answering our questions. Say hello next time you seen him at Mass!