CONSHOHOCKEN — The metaphor perfectly suits the occasion of a 100th anniversary.
"We did a major restoration inside and outside to recapture the magnificent beauty of the church. Now the house of the Lord is restored, so it's time for all the people to restore and deepen their spiritual life," said the Rev. Thomas Heron, pastor of St. Matthew Roman Catholic parish, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Sunday.
Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m., at the church, 219 Fayette St., followed by a party in the church hall.
"We wanted to do something different, so we're having food trucks here on Sunday," Heron noted. "With the food trucks people can take whatever they want to eat, and in the hall parishioners will provide homemade desserts too. It will run to around 2:30 p.m. and should be a wonderful occasion, celebrating 100 years of worshiping in this church, and celebrating the second hundred years."
Around $250,000 was raised in outside donations for the renovation, which cost roughly $1.2 million, explained Heron, who has served as pastor of St. Matthew since 2011.
"The donors would prefer to remain anonymous," he added.
During the time when St. Matthew's High School changed its name to Archbishop Kennedy High School in 1966, Heron had taught there from 1982 to 1986.
Heron grew up in Collingdale, Delaware County, and sees plenty of parallels between that town and his beloved Conshohocken.
"They both have a lot of hard working people who just want to raise a family, have a great sense of community, love their town, from generation to generation, and have a lot of town traditions. In Conshohocken people worked at Alan Wood Steel or Lee Tire. In Collingdale they worked at Scott Paper. A lot of parallels."
Heron is especially proud that the parish includes centenarian Bud Riley, who will be attending Mass on Sunday.
"He just celebrated his 102nd birthday last Saturday at Brightview," Heron said. "He lived in the house he was born in for 97 years and then went into independent living and just moved to assisted living. His grandparents came from Ireland in 1856, the parish was founded in 1851, so the Riley family are just short of going A to Z ... to me that's just a remarkable story."
The 1851 church was built on Hector Street in Conshohocken, Heron noted.
"In 1915 the parishioners of St. Matthew's started to construct the present structure of St. Matthew's church that sits on Third Avenue and Fayette Street. They started building that church in 1915 and it was completed in 1919. The first Mass was celebrated on Sept. 21, 1919. That's the 100 years for us. On Sept 21, which happens to be the Feast of St. Matthew, St. Matthew's church will finish 100 years of giving glory, honor and thanks in honor of the Holy Spirit and then we'll begin our second hundred years."