The First 300

Saint Matthias

1922 postcard view of St. Matthias, the rectory at left.

At the turn of the century, as Lower Merion suburban communities developed around station stops of the Pennsylvania Railroad, so did the religious institutions conveniently locate their parish churches. Typical of this growth pattern is St. Matthias Roman Catholic Parish which was founded by Archbishop John Ryan on February 2, 1906. The first Mass was celebrated by Father Michael McCabe, the founding pastor, on February 2nd at the Lonergan home on Union Avenue and Conshocken State Road.

The original St. Matthias School, built of native stone to match the church and rectory. A convent for the Sisters of Mercy had the same architectural character. A new parish school was built in 1971.

A New Parish.

Following a generous gift of property on Bryn Mawr and Highland Avenues from John E. Lonergan, ground was broken and the cornerstone for the new parish church laid in October 1906. The church and rectory were designed by George I. Lovett and was the first example in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of the monastery church style of the 12th and 13th centuries.

The new church was dedicated on November 8, 1908 by Archbishop Ryan. It was renovated in 1931 at which time the mural paintings were placed there.

The parish school and convent for the Sisters of Mercy were later built in the same picturesque architectural style, lending themselves to the beautiful suburban area. Total enrollment at that time: 19 pupils.

In the Chapel of the Crucified Christ (on the side of the church) are buried the first two pastors of the parish: Father Michael J. McCabe, the founding pastor, served from 1908 to 1918; his brother, Father Luke V. McCabe served the parish community from 1918 to 1930.

The sanctuary showing the 1930s ornamentation with the statuary and paintings added to the 1908 interior.
Father Michael McCabe, the founding Pastor. Rector from 1906 to 1918.
His brother, Luke McCabe, followed him as Pastor from 1918 to 1930.
The first grade, 1955.
Sister M. Paula, beloved longtime principal of St. Matthias Parish School.
May Procession, 1956, in Mary’s Month.