Ninth Annual White Mass – A Celebration of Gifts

Msgr. Charles Pope sharing a heartfelt and inspirational homily on the importance of belonging and acceptance during the Ninth Annual White Maas in Washington, DC on October 28, 2018.

Hundreds of children, adults, family members, and community leaders and participants gathered on October 28 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew’ the Apostle in Washington, DC for the Ninth Annual White Mass. Celebrating the gifts of persons with disabilities and the Deaf community, the Mass has been growing in size across the years, with more and more people — both with and without disabilities — participating in both leadership and participatory roles.

Msgr. Charles Pope delivered the homily at Mass — transforming the concept of “special needs” into a recognition of “special gifts and talents.” He reminded the congregation of the importance of belonging, and the responsibility of acceptance — and encouraged everyone to open their eyes and see ourselves and our neighbors as God sees us — created with purpose and not measured by age or ability.

Many of those serving on the altar or sharing readings from the Lectionary or intercessory prayers were children and adults with disabilities who are parishioners in churches in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Jeni Stepanek, the mother of the late teen poet and peacemaker Mattie J.T. Stepanek, and a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood, Maryland, was among those asked to read a petition during the prayers of the faithful.

Jeni Stepanek, mother of the late teen poet and peacemaker Mattie J.T. Stepanek, said it was an privilege to sharing petition for the Prayers of the Faithful, and an honor to be invited to share the petition remembering her son and others who have died but who continue to serve as role models of faith and service, especially for children and adults with disabilities.

“What a privilege to be able to participate so fully in this extraordinary celebration,” Stepanek said. “And what an honor to be offered the petition that invites prayers for those in special needs ministries and those served by special needs ministries who have died, but who are remembered as role models of purpose and God’s presence – including my own son.”

Stepanek added that the Mass occurred on a very special day – the Feast of St. Jude Thaddeus – patron saint of hopeless situations, and to whom Mattie had a special devotion. Born Matthew Joseph Stepanek in 1990, Mattie took “Jude Thaddeus” as his confirmation name in 1998, and “from that day forward,” his mom said, “he celebrated life and his shared ‘Heartsongs‘ messages of hope and peace with the name that he said brought together God’s purpose with his choices – Mattie J.T. Stepanek.”

During the homily, Msgr. Pope – who provided pastoral care to Jeni and to Mattie and his brother Jamie during the 1980s and 1990s – mentioned Mattie when sharing personal stories about local Catholics with disabilities who lived with purpose and who found God’s glory even amid suffering. Mattie, who died in 2004 just before his 14th birthday, served as a catechist in his home parish of Most Holy Rosary in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and was an inspirational speaker and bestseller author, who reminded people of all ages and abilities about celebrating our unique reason for being, and about the importance of not only including others – but of embracing others with God’s love, and celebrating them with hope and peace.

Msgr. Pope also mentioned that the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild was in the process of gathering information and support to explore and further Mattie’s possible Cause of Canonization in the Catholic Church. After the Mass, members of the Guild shared newly created cards with information about Mattie’s life and Cause and introducing the new Guild website, and with “Mattie’s Prayer” — created especially for children and families and teachers.

 

To view The Catholic Standard article about
the Ninth Annual White Mass – click here…

 

To view or listen to Msgr. Charles Pope’s homily
(recorded live for Facebook) – click here…

 

To view Mattie’s Prayer – click here… 

 

 

 

November 2018 Message from the Guild

November 2018 Reflection

During the month that the Church honors All Saints and All Souls, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild invites you to pray to Mattie Stepanek, the late teen poet and peacemaker.

Most know Mattie from his bestselling books of spirit-filled poetry, and his many appearances on television. Yet what nourished and inspired him was his devotion to God, and the daily practice of his Catholic faith. Mattie’s rare form of neuromuscular disease presented many health challenges; he died of complications from his disability just before his 14th birthday.

At an early age, living in rural Maryland, Mattie began receiving what he called“messages” from God, messages he shaped into his poetry and written work. These became the song of his heart – his Heartsong – and he encouraged others to find their Heartsong, their unique purpose given to them by God.

As a Catholic, Mattie attended Mass often and was a lector and religious education teacher for 2nd and 6th graders. Throughout his life, even while critically ill, Mattie showed unselfish concern for his family, friends, and especially the infants and children alongside him in the ICU. When given money to buy himself Christmas gifts, he used it instead to purchase movies and games for them, to lift their loneliness while in the hospital. He also wrote prayers and poetry for patients, families and medical staff, especially in times of crisis and loss. 

Mattie endured lifelong disability, constant health challenges and ongoing financial difficulties, choosing not to be defeated by them but instead turning his face to God, responding to the purpose God gave him, and living out his life as a faithful Catholic. The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild invites you to pray Mattie’s Prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in our God-given purpose. Because Mattie’s Heartsongswere given to him in his childhood and early teens, the Guild especially encourages children and teens to pray to Mattie.

Please stay in touch as we continue to share Mattie’s work, and our belief that he is a saint for our times.

The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild
www.Mattie4Sainthood.org

View Mattie’s Prayer here…

Download a PDF version
of Mattie’s Prayer here…

 

 

Mattie’s Guild – A Welcome Message

Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild:
A Message from the Directors

The Founder and Directors of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild are preparing a special welcome message as we launch this new website. Please check back soon, as we hope to have most of the pages ready for a full launch by November 1, 2018 — All Saints Day.

We encourage you to stay connected by checking the website regularly (Mattie4Sainthood.org) for new messages and monthly themes and activity suggestions, and by visiting our social media pages (Facebook – Mattie 4 Sainthood / Twitter – @Mattie4Saint).

Please feel free to ask questions and share thoughts and reflections by visiting our Contact page (here) or sending an e-mail to Mattie4Sainthood@gmail.com. 

Thank you.