I’m happy to introduce you to Sister Chabanel Mathison, an Ursuline of the Central Province.
What is your ministry and what drew you to it? I’m the Pastoral Administrator for St. Cronan Catholic Community in the St. Louis Midtown area. When I was finishing my ministry as prioress for Queen of Peace Healthcare Center and the Alton Ursuline Community a year ago, I wanted to return to ministry among God’s people in the wider community. The position at St. Cronan’s opened up at the same time. I knew the parish had a deep commitment to social justice, that its outreach grew out of a commitment to share its gifts with the inner city neighborhood where it’s located and with the world community, and that it recognizes the value of ministering to one another and fostering personal growth as well as the growth of the parish and neighborhood communities. It’s the kind of church community that Pope Francis speaks about, and one I wanted to share.
How do you see Angela’s charism alive in your ministry? The members of our parish community minister to the “little people” of the neighborhood, operating a food pantry, hosting the offices of Midtown Catholic Charities—which means that the needy come through our doors daily for a variety of services they wouldn’t otherwise receive. We also risk taking on larger, significant issues. For example, we recently hosted officials from a national ministry of justice and reconciliation who met with representatives of several inner city denominations regarding the healing of our troubled city after the recent shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent weeks of protests and demonstrations. Members of our church community have attended the vigils and our pastor has been on the streets with the clergy peace force.
What gifts and challenges do you experience in the daily carrying out of your ministry? It’s a gift to be at the service of a community deeply committed to inclusivity, social justice, and contemporary liturgy which speaks to my heart. It’s also a gift to be challenged daily to stretch in terms of justice issues, service to the poor, and honest, straight-forward interaction with others who all see things differently. I’m challenged by being on a parish staff that serves the kind of community St. Cronan is—always on the edge of a new issue or challenge. It’s also challenging to stretch to accommodate the many needs represented by the people who come through our doors—respecting their dignity, meeting them heart to heart, and sending them away with head up and with a sense of hope.