A Bountiful Harvest

Newsletter issue: 
September 2013
News item date: 
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

By Tim Scordato

Fr. Matthew McMorrow gathers with his parishioners outside of Northern Illinois University Newman Center

In the late summer, Dekalb, IL is filled with rows of golden-tipped stalks swaying in the breeze.  Come fall, large combines will ride over the land and gather the yield.  Perhaps it is only natural that Fr. McMorrow, who was born and raised in DeKalb, also produces bountiful harvests.  Since his ordination to the priesthood, he has gathered an impressive group of supporters for The Haitian Project (THP) – first at St. John Neumann in 2005, then at Boylan Catholic High School in 2007, and now back home in DeKalb at Christ the Teacher (Northern Illinois University’s Newman Center).

At Boylan, Fr. McMorrow called students to reach beyond the classroom to care for others.  During his senior year, Boylan alumnus Bobby Blood accompanied Fr. McMorrow on a service trip to Kentucky.  Blood commented that his experiences on that trip helped him to accept God’s will, “Having Father’s example of joy in the priesthood gave me a greater sense of what doing God’s will truly meant.”  Blood is now a seminarian in the Diocese of Rockford.

At Northern Illinois University’s Newman Center, Fr. McMorrow inspired Micah Pfundstein (pictured far left) to help develop and implement a new outreach ministry at NIU to bring students to the Mass.  He called Mary Bajek (pictured to the right of Fr. McMorrow) to rejuvenate and lead the Catholic student dormitory floor, so Catholic students can live, play, and pray together as a community.  Reflecting on the outreach ministry, Fr. McMorrow says, “To live together in Christian community is very powerful, as those at LCS know.”

Just as each member of the LCS community is expected to participate in community life, the Newman Center has the same expectation.  Luke Challand (pictured left of Fr. McMorrow) said he enjoyed working with Father in student ministry two years ago, and now Challand, in his new maintenance role, is proud to serve his community by keeping the center clean and functional.

Father McMorrow is quick to point out that THP and the Newman Center share a common goal – “They both seek to reach out into the larger world to make a difference. . . . I know THP is effective because of the stories I’ve heard, the quality of the staff members I have met, and the success of the alumni,” he said, stressing the importance of being aware of the world around us and applauding THP for its success in doing so.

The impact Fr. McMorrow has had on THP is nothing short of excellent.  While at Boylan, he helped inspire students to give to the penny drive for Louverture Cleary School (LCS).  Not only does he gather others to give, but he has also become one of THP’s outstanding financial contributors – giving to the Project both personally and through the Newman Center.

President of THP, Deacon Patrick Moynihan, said, “I am inspired by Fr. McMorrow. Every time, and it is several times a year, I see another donation from him, I think to myself, ‘Wow, there are so many other things that Fr. McMorrow could have on his mind than Haiti. He sticks with us!’”

Through his spiritual support to others and his tithing to The Haitian Project, Fr. McMorrow is an inspiring example of what it means to make a difference.