Our Beginnings

St. Matthew was formally dedicated as a parish in  1965; however several important events preceded that date. 

Mrs. Bridget O'Connor gave ten acres of farm land to the diocese of Peoria for the establishment of the Parish in 1959. Bishop John Franz bought an additional ten acres from her. 

In 1960 Father J. Walter McGinn supervised a fundraising drive for the construction of a school building and convent to be located on the newly acquired land in southwest Champaign. The motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate agreed to help staff the school. Sister Ida Pfeffer was the first principal. 

The new school opened in September 1962 with 238 students in six grades and with a CCD enrollment of 50. Bishop Fran dedicated the facility as St. Matthew Auxiliary, an extension of Holy Cross. The name St. Matthew was chosen at the request of Mrs. O'Connor. Sunday masses were celebrated in the gymnasium which also contained a small chapel opening on the west. In 1965 St. Matthew became an official parish and Father James Martin was appointed the first pastor. The parish added a junior high wing to the school in 1966. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George have served at St. Matthew School since 1995. The School has grown to provide outstanding religious-based education from Kindergarten through Eighth grade. The current Principal is Michelle Biggs.