Castle Shannon native drawn to life of ministry – Matthew McClain

2002 News

 Rev. Matthew R. McClain is the son of Dr. Edward J. McClain, Jr., and Nancy M. McClain of Pittsburgh. He is a 1989 graduate of Mount Lebanon High School, Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, in 1993. In 2001 he received the master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, with honor. In 2001 he earned the master of divinity degree from the Seminary, with honors. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2002.

This article is from The Pittsburgh Catholic of June 28, 2002.

By John Franko

PITTSBURGH — Days before his ordination, Father Matthew McClain likened the ceremony to the early morning — the dawn of a new day.

“It’s a pretty exciting time,” he said. “It’s the end of one road, but it’s really just a beginning.”

Father McClain said he had thought about the priesthood for a number of years, but it wasn’t until he had graduated from Colgate University and was working for Northwestern Mutual in Pittsburgh that he seriously began to act on his calling.

“I often felt like there was something going on in my life that was bigger than me,” he said.

He discussed the matter with his uncle, Capuchin Father Bob McCreary. He said he had never envisioned himself as a diocesan priest, but gradually felt himself being pulled in that direction. He decided to enter St. Paul Seminary in the fall of 1996.

Father McClain recalled that, at first, he thought he didn’t fit the “image” of a seminarian. Through the interaction with his fellow seminarians, however, he realized that they all had special gifts to share.He completed his two-year program at St. Paul in 1998 and went on to the theology program at St. Vincent College in Latrobe that fall.

Father McClain said his decision to become a diocesan priest was cemented by his pastoral experience work at St. Martin de Porres in McKeesport. He said the experience gave him the opportunity to minister to people in all walks of life.

He recalled one incident in which a woman who had been away from the church for a number of years was told by a friend that she should hear him preach.

She did so and it turned out to be one of a number of factors that led her back to the faith.“That floored me,” he said. “I thought ‘this is what it’s all about.’”

Father McClain said that in addition to his uncle, he has been inspired by a number of priests, including Msgr. Charles Owen Rice, a former pastor of St. Anne in Castle Shannon where he grew up.

“I’ve always known priests and found them to live good, happy lives,” he said.

He said he has also been inspired by the image of a priest as an “icon” of Christ. He noted that priests have the freedom to be prophetic and stand up for what is right in the world.

Father McClain said he is looking forward to ministering in all areas of the church, with people of all ages.

He said those considering a vocation must take the time to pray and reflect on how God may be calling them.

“Really surrender your life to God and just see what it feels like,” he said. “Give it a shot. It’s going to be worth it.”

The youngest of nine children, Father McClain, 31, is the son of Nancy and Edward McClain of Castle Shannon. He is a 1989 graduate of Mount Lebanon High School.