Getting to know Matt Palkert and Outreach Ministries
By: John Brock, Parishioner
Matt Palkert is the Director of Outreach Ministries. Get to know more about him and outreach ministries through part-one of this two-part interview.
John: What do you do in your role as Coordinator of Outreach Ministries?
Matt: There are almost 30 outreach ministries at St. Mary's. Most of what I do is coordinate and support the activities that are led by the outreach ministers. Some of it is administrative support, but a significant part of my work is relational - getting to know our ministers and learning how to best support them. I also enjoy connecting with parishioners, hearing their stories, and helping them find a ministry that is right for them. Lastly, I'm also grateful in this role for the chance to engage with the wider community and church, whether it be in the White Bear area or as far away as Haiti.
John: If somebody needed something from St. Mary's, can they contact you?
Matt: Yes-absolutely! Anyone can call the general parish line and get connected to the right staff person, based on the need. Or find me, another staff person or volunteer at church and let them know that you could use some support right now. Word will get to the right person, and we will be in touch.
You might be looking for prayers, to have communion brought to you, to talk with one of our Befrienders as you go through a life transition, to learn about social service resources that are available in the community, or to connect with a group or a way to serve others. We want people to share their gifts and talents with St. Mary's, as well as their needs. Asking for support can be hard, but please know that by bringing your needs forward, you are making St. Mary's a stronger community. The Church wants to support you, and we need your help to know just how we can do that.
John: Where are you from and how did you end up here?
Matt: I grew up in Minnesota, left, and then came back. The short story is that I attended St. Mary's University in Winona. From there I bounced around to a few places teaching high school theology and serving as a campus chaplain, and then returned to Minnesota in the winter of 2014.
John: You came back during the winter?
Matt: Yes, believe it or not. I was compelled to return. I was most recently in Chicago and really felt it was time to return to Minnesota because of my parents' health. My mom is struggling with Alzheimer's and at the time my dad was being treated for colon cancer. He is doing well now, but at the time needed a lot of support. I was available to leave my job and community in Chicago and return to this great state, where most of my family lives.
John: Can you share a bit about your education and training?
Matt: Well, I went to St Mary's and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Theology and Pastoral Youth Ministry. A few years later I went to the University of Notre Dame and earned a Masters of Divinity. I am currently enrolled in a spiritual director program at St. Catherine University. I apparently love to learn.
John: What is your impression of St. Mary of the Lake?
Matt: In my first eight months, my impression is that St. Mary's is a prayerful, compassionate, and active community. The Mass makes up the heart of parish life, and the liturgies are excellent. Also, people care about and watch out for one another, and this care is also directed outward to the concerns beyond our community. There is an awareness that we are called to go out into the world and live our faith. There is also an emphasis on hospitality here, and I hear from many of the very active parishioners that they would love to find ways for more parishioners to get more involved in the life of the parish. They notice how life-giving their involvement has been for them, and they don't want people to miss out.
Do you or someone you know need outreach ministries support? Explore our Outreach Ministries or contact Matt at email@example.com. He would love to hear from you.
The second half of the interview will be in the next issue of the Gathering Space Newsletter, where Matt will discuss some of his goals for St. Mary of the Lake and also describe his attendance at the recent beatification service for Blessed Archbishop Romero in El Salvador.