On Mission: St. Matthew in Rogers is small, but healthy mission

By Msgr. Tom Frank

At a gathering of Catholics in 1991, a discussion for a Catholic church in Rogers took place. One member emphatically stated that since St. Matthew’s Gospel began the New Testament and since he was one of the original Apostles, what was good enough for Jesus should be good enough for them. And so was born St. Matthew Mission in Rogers.
St. Matthew is a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Temple. It is 14 miles southeast of Temple on Highway 36 toward Cameron.
The first Mass was celebrated Oct. 27, 1991, in a rented downtown building. When the rent was raised, members began looking for land of their own and used the Rogers Elementary School for Sunday Mass. A lot of more than 6 acres west of downtown Rogers was purchased with a grant from the Catholic Extension Society and a loan from the Clerical Endowment Fund. The church was built, dedicated and blessed on Oct. 26, 1997.
Not long after the dedication, a large, wooden, painted statue of St. Matthew arrived from Mexico. A steeple, bell and a covered entry were added to the church and a large pavilion was constructed. The youth of the mission also worked on a prayer garden.
“Beginning with a very small, dedicated group, St. Matthew developed and grew into a very special place,” said a current, original member of the mission.
In 1993, the mission had 21 registered households, there were 50 in 1997, and today there are 88 families. The mission has an active Knights of Columbus Council and a Women’s Society, as well as a Finance Council and Pastoral Council. The mission is proud to be debt free.
Maintenance and repairs are handled by parishioners and the Women’s Society purchases all liturgical needs and also cares for the altar and church. The Rogers school buildings are used for religious education, and the church gives four scholarships each year to graduating seniors for further education.
Parishioners’ current wish list includes more retreats for youth and adults, living quarters for a priest, and an all-purpose building for religious education, meetings and the annual festival, which is held in October.
Sunday Masses are at 9 a.m. in Spanish and at 10:45 a.m. in English. For a visit and tour at other times, call (254) 642-3691 or (254) 760-4795.