Welcome to our 20th Anniversary Remembrance webpage where we will keep you updated on activities and events, including the Memorial Mass
A Time for Hope
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
This is a time for hope. Mattie may have died 20 years ago, but he still brings hope, renews hope, leads us to hope. Mattie wrote, “God give me hope that there is something greater than us, something better and bigger than the here and now, that can help us live.”
Mattie was a spirit meant to be – a messenger of faith, hope and peace. He has not left us. He is remembered. The messages he shared and his conception of Heartsongs live on and inspire others to believe in the power of prayer, the truth of hope and the potential of peace.
Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek was an extraordinary child. Although he faced many challenges and suffered greatly from a rare neuromuscular disease, dying just before his fourteenth birthday, Mattie’s legacy of deep faith serves as an example to children and adults long after his passing. Mattie believed his purpose in life was to be a messenger, shaping the words God placed in his heart into messages of hope and peace for the world. During his short life, Mattie became a well-known poet, published author, and inspirational speaker.
Mattie’s lasting gift to us is his belief that we all have what he called a Heartsong – a special purpose and “reason for being” given to us by God. Mattie’s faith and friendship with God sustained him through life’s most painful and difficult moments. Raised in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Mattie attended Mass several days a week and sang in the choir as a young child. After receiving his First Holy Communion, he became a lector and then received the Sacrament of Confirmation early at the age of eight. He then served as a catechist. Mattie had a deep devotion to the Eucharist. His final request before dying was to receive Holy Communion, and his final word was “Yes!”
20th Anniversary Activities & Events
The following activities and events are being planned. Please visit again soon for details and updates.
Memorial Mass for Mattie
Saturday, June 22, 2024 at 10:00 am
Principal celebrant and homilist: Msgr. John J. Enzler
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church
Reception to follow
Prayer Intentions Basket
Share your prayer intentions which will be placed in a basket and brought up with the gifts for a blessing during Mattie’s Memorial Mass.
Journey with Mattie
Learn of the sites around the Archdiocese of Washington that were important to Mattie as a faithful Catholic, as a fun-loving boy and for his health.
An online map is being created along with information on each location plus prayers and poetry for people to read about and/or to visit.
Virtual Conversations – Mattie Magnified
Several times in 2024, the Guild will host online virtual conversations (like a webinar) to share about Mattie’s life and virtues.
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“My Heartsongs will become the echo and silhouette of my life, after my spirit moves from my body. Some people call this a eulogy or epitaph. I prefer to think of my lasting essence, and my legacy, in more poetic terms, because the gift God gave me to share with the world is the gift of shaping words into inspirational messages … If my Heartsongs grow big enough, if I can share them powerfully enough, maybe they will spread around the world and become like the seeds of peace. And even if my spirit has moved on from my body, other people around the world can nurture these seeds, and grow my message of hope and peace into a powerful reality.”