St. Augustine was the only diocese for the entire state of Florida until 1958. Due to the increase of the Catholic population in South Florida the Holy See saw fit to establish the Diocese of Miami with Coleman F. Carroll as its first Bishop.
Soon after his arrival in Miami, Bishop Carroll began establishing new parishes, one of which was St. Matthew in Hallandale on March 12, 1959. Father John A. Skehan was appointed the first pastor of the new parish.
A duplex located at 916 Northeast Second Street was purchased to be used as a residency for the priest and also the Parish office. A carport attached to the side of the building was enclosed and used as a chapel for daily mass.
Sunday Masses were first celebrated in the Hallandale Recreation Center. Due to the competition from passing freight trains, a move was made to the Plantation Restaurant on Hallandale Beach Boulevard. In November 1959 a building fund was started with a goal of $175,000.
In 1959 the Women’s Club along with the holy Name and St. Vincent de Paul Societies were organized. CCD classes were also started.
Plans were approved for an L-shapes structure. One part of the L was to be the church (seating capacity 500) and the other to be divided into four classrooms with folding doors between them which could be opened to take care of the overflow of parishioners at Sunday Masses.
Construction was begun in 1960 and completed in 1962. On March 11, 1961 the new church was dedicated. In September 1961 St. Matthew School was opened with an enrollment of eighty-five students in grades one through four. Shortly after the opening of the school a kindergarten was added with twenty-five students.
During the first year of operation the school was staffed by two Sisters of St. Catherine de Ricci and one lay teacher. A bus was purchased to transport students to and from school. This bus was also used to bring parishioners to Sunday Mass. The bus driver on Sunday was James Flanagan.
The following year grades five and six were added. It was staffed by two Ursuline Sisters from Cincinnati, Ohio and two Sisters of the Apostolate of the Sacred Heart, who had recently come from Cuba, and one lay teacher.
In May 1963 Father Skehan was appointed Pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Delray Beach. Father Skehan was followed by Father Gerald Manning, who due to illness was relieved of his duties. Father Michael Licari administered the Parish until September 1963.
In 1964 grades seven and eight were added and the Sisters of the Apostolate of the Sacred Heart, together with lay teachers, staffed the school. The portable, which is now Rose Hall, was built to house the Media Center and library.
Father James Keogh was appointed Pastor. During his six years at St. Matthew improvements were made including the enlargement of the church by extending the side walls thus making it wider. He also put air-conditioning into the church and school. This was a most welcome addition. Father Keogh was followed by Father Ronald Brohamer who spent the next thirteen years at St. Matthew.
A choir under the direction of Robert Greeley, who was also the organist, was formed accompanied by musical instruments adding to the beauty of the liturgical services. The Sanctuary was renovated; Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers were added at this time.
In 1976 the Thrift Shop was opened. It was first housed in a building on Hallandale Beach Boulevard. From there it was moved to Pembroke Road and after a number of years was moved back to Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Due to the sale of this building it was moved to a location on South Dixie Highway. The store did not prosper here therefore; the decision was made to close it.
A small Religious Article Store was opened in a room on the west side of the church. The convent no longer being used by the Sisters was converted into a Rectory and Parish offices.
Father Brohamer was succeeded by Father Leonard Puisis. Father Puisis made many necessary repairs. Among these was replacing the roof on the church and school, painting the church and school inside and out, landscaping the grounds, building the gazebos following Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Because of too few students, the school was closed in June 1984. The space occupied by the school became the Parish Hall. Coffee and doughnuts were started following the Sunday Masses to give parishioners an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company. The first two Golf Tournaments were held at the Hollywood Beach Golf and Country Club.
In 1997 Father Puisis retired after fifteen years as Pastor. Father James A. Quinn came to us in June 1997. Under his guidance the Stewardship Program was established in the parish, and the Women and Men of St. Matthew began. We have had two Parish Missions; a Religious Article Shop was opened. The Sanctuary was refurbished, the church painted inside, Bingo was started, and monthly social activities were planned. The third and fourth Golf Tournaments were held at the Hillcrest Country Club.
Over the years there have been many programs to aid in the spiritual development of the parish. Among these are retreats, Novenas, Days of Recollection, renewals, inquiry classes, Bible Study Groups, Legion of Mary, Rosary Makers, Feed the Hungry, visiting the sick and taking Holy Communion to the sick and shut-ins.
We are grateful to all those volunteers and parishioners who have contributed to the spirit of the parish.