During November 2018, three directors from the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Guild were interviewed for the Facebook series, “Saints in the Making.” The segment was the second in the series, hosted by Rachel Chung, the Coordinator of Disability Ministry for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC Department of Special Needs Ministry.
Guild Directors Jenn Lynn Kerwin, Peg Kolm, and Jeni Stepanek gathered after Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Derwood, Maryland to share insights about Mattie’s life and legacy. The interview took place concurrent with the 40th anniversary of the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities.
The youngest of four children, Mattie was born with the same rare and fatal genetic neuromuscular disease that afflicted his siblings, and years later, his mother, Jeni. The condition — dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy — was discovered after all four of the children’s births and led to death during early childhood for the first three children. Despite medical predictions for his lifespan and abilities, Mattie lived almost 14 years and became a well-respected advocate and spokesperson for peace and disability organizations and a seven-time NY Times Bestselling author.
At age three, Mattie began composing poetry and passages he called Heartsongs. He ultimately published six volumes in his Heartongs poetry books series, as well as a collection of peace essays and passages entitled, Just Peace: A Message of Hope. He became a frequent guest on The Oprah Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and other shows, using the media opportunities as a platform for sharing messages of hope and peace, which he said were placed in his heart by God. He was an active parishioner and catechist at Holy Rosary Parish in Upper Marlboro before moving and becoming a member of St. Raphael’s in Montgomery County.
Through his writings and his strong faith, Mattie was an inspiration to young and old alike around the world. His time on earth was brief, but he lived with purpose and deep faith, and the impact of his witness and work continues today. In 2002, he was honored with the Howard E. “Rocky” Stone Humanitarian Award. And in 2013, he was posthumously awarded the inaugural Youth/Young Adult Leadership Award by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.
During November 2018, his Cause of Canonization for possible sainthood was shared with a new website (www.Mattie4Sainthood.org) and through social media platforms. Mattie’s Guild and the Cause were initiated in 2012 by EWTN’s The World Over host, Raymond Arroyo.
Other “Saints in the Making” segments (so far) feature the Causes for Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz and Mary Virginia Merrick — both also faithful departed who lived and ministered in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
Click on the video below to learn more about Mattie’s cause for sainthood and how his message of peace speaks to youth and adults today.
Saints in the MakingThe second in our series Saints in the Making explores the life and legacy of Mattie Stepanek. Mattie was the youngest of four children all born with the genetic condition called Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy. Mattie was an active parishioner at St. Francis in Derwood MD right here in the Archdiocese of Washington. At age three he composed a book of poetry entitled Heartsongs and went on to write 6 more books of poetry. Through his writings and his strong faith, Mattie was an inspiration to young and old alike. His time with us was a short 13 years but the impact continues today. This year, the cause of sainthood was initiated. Click on the video below to learn more about Mattie’s cause for sainthood and how his message of peace speaks to us today.To learn more about Mattie’s life and legacy, go to:http://www.mattieonline.comTo learn more about Mattie's cause for sainthood:http://mattie4sainthood.orgFollow the cause on Twitter:#Mattie4Sainthood#CanonizeMattie
Posted by Faith, Deafness and Disabilities: Archdiocese of Washington on Tuesday, December 18, 2018