Father Matt Foley Honoring #HeroPriests

Father Matt Foley (Archdiocese of Chicago '89), St. James Parish, Arlington Heights, IL

Submitted by: Diane Adam

Father Matt Foley lives his faith daily with joy even when COVID closed our church before Holy Week. He brought that joy to us each day by offering livestream daily Mass immediately. Father Matt and Father Ryan McMillan lead this Mass together to keep each other motivated. One would be the lector and the other preside. Adore on Thursday nights is a favorite liturgy. Father Matt and our music director kept it going by live-streaming adoration, worship music and Father Matt’s reflection every Thursday until we could reopen our doors to parishioners for Adore.

Father Matt Foley brought his motivational speaker video to us weekly as he performed hilarious spiritual workouts. He would challenge families in such feats as saying 10 Hail Marys while hopscotching. His videos became so famous the Chicago Catholic newspaper featured him.

In June, when the Archdiocese allowed reopenings of our church for Mass with parishioners, he invited seminarian Ryan Brady to live in the rectory. Ryan will tell you Father Matt was formidable in his life in helping form him in becoming a Deacon. We are so proud of Deacon Ryan leading us in Adore, sharing beautiful faith-filled reflection at Adore and homilies at Mass.

Father Matt made sure everyone safely received their major sacraments in July and the RCIA confirmandi became Catholic. Father Matt’s energy is unbelievable to carry all this out, always with joy. Father Matt offered a Wednesday livestream School/Religious Ed Mass with no one there in attendance til June. His homilies and the music were geared to them. We had record numbers following these Wednesday Masses. When we could come back to Mass, Father Matt offered two daily Masses--7:30 a.m. is always full and noon is close to full. I am on our Ambassador Welcome Ministry. From April to July, we had 23 new families register. How could this be? It’s easy. Father Matt Foley’s faith, joy, and energy motivates all to become stronger in their faith and spread this motivational joy that radiates from Father Matt. To me he is like the Apostle Paul. He never stops spreading who Christ is and why you need to feed your soul with our liturgies and other faith formation offerings.

Father Matt and new associate Father Ryan will be remembered during this COVID time for bringing levity along with the joy of being Catholic to parishioners and beyond who got the word to come see Matt Foley. He’s a motivational speaker who no longer lives "down by the river," but at the St. James rectory.