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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fr. Matt Hewitt: Rome to St. Mary's

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Father Matt Hewitt is now at home at St. Mary's and is anxious to begin his work in the school and the church.

Father Hewitt grew up in Sioux City, graduating from Heelan High School in 1990. He went on to Creighton University. When he graduated in 1994, he had a double major in accounting and finance.

He moved to Portland, Ore. where he worked for a CPA firm for three years.

While there, he began thinking about the priesthood and was urged by several people he met to pray about the consideration. In visiting with members of the Sioux City Diocese, where his own faith had been fostered while growing up, the idea was solidified.

He was referred to a seminary in Indiana to study philosophy. He spent two years there and gained the tools necessary to study theology. He was asked there if he would consider spending the next four years of schooling in Rome. At first he said no because he knew it was a big commitment and he wouldn't be able to come home for at least the first two years. But he reconsidered - thinking about the rich culture he would be introduced to there.

So in the summer of 1999 he went off to Rome. During the years in Rome he had many wonderful experiences.

He had the great opportunity to see the Pope often and served mass for him on many occasions. The Pope used Father Hewitt's personal chalice during mass and returned it to him with lip marks still on it. Father Hewitt laughed saying he didn't want to wash it after that but, of course, did.

The chalice is a constant reminder to Father Hewitt that he is sharing in the Pope's work.

The classes were presented in the Italian so he and most of the other participants learned the language together. It was interesting, he said, as the classes were international and there was a very diverse group of people he was put together with. "I met so many great people from so many different nations."

In his last year of seminary, he came back to Sioux City and took part in a pastoral internship for one year at the Epiphany Cathedral where he took part in weekly masses while in high school. It was wonderful, he said, to be back home and in such familiar territory.

Father Hewitt was ordained in June 26 at the Sioux City Cathedral. He left for a one-month trip to Mexico immediately after to study the Spanish language. "I lived with a great family and was able to be a part of their culture." He is still learning the language but is anxious to have the opportunity to use the language.

Father Hewitt was assigned to St. Mary's where he will serve as the associate pastor and also be teaching at the school. He pointed out that when he was in high school, there were several priests teaching at Heelan. Today, because numbers of priests are down, he is the only Catholic priest in this Diocese that is teaching.

He will be teaching fifth, eighth and 11th grade religion classes and is anxious to be a part of the school. "I'm hoping that my involvement will interest youth to think about a vocation in religion."

In addition, at the church, he will conduct the religious education classes for the public school students, help with confirmation, help with masses, help with wedding and funeral preparation, make visits to members in the hospital, conduct mass for nursing home residents and help the Hispanic minister.

"It's great to be back in the parish," he concluded.

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