St. Matthias Catholic Church sits between I-71 and Cleveland Avenue in northeastern Columbus. It is located in a residential area with lots of houses and apartment complexes. Three main buildings make up the church complex. First is the school. St. Matthias operates a school that educates children from kindergarten to grade 8. The school building is to the right of the main church. It is not a majestic or even particularly large building, but it is filled with artwork and decorations made by students. The building farthest to the left is the office building in which Sisters, Pastors and other clergy as well as secretaries and treasurers work during the day. The building is surrounded by statues of Mary and Jesus. Finally, the building in the center is the main church building. This building has a giant cross over it. Inside is an almost circular shaped chapel with benches lining either side. At the front is a big cross with stained glass windows beside it. On the cross is Jesus. Many chandeliers surround the church with crosses painted on the lights. The church also features several statues of Jesus and Mary as well as artwork made by the school children.
Sunday mornings at eleven the English speaking congregation of St. Matthias gathers together for Sunday mass. During this service a few congregation members read out of a book called “The Word of God.” Bible passages and stories are read, and the pastor makes a speech. Everybody then kneels for prayer on cushioned parts of the benches that are folded out. After that the members of the congregation go up to receive communion. They eat a consecrated wafer and drink sips of wine in order to receive the body and blood of Christ. Finally, additional passages are read, and the service ends.
St. Matthias is especially notable for the diversity of its congregation. When I visited the church, I saw a multitude of different people. There were Nigerians in traditional dress, Asians, whites, blacks, and Latinos. All were under one roof praying together. Most people were dressed casually which was a change for me as I always had to dress nicely to go to synagogue. The church offers many services in many different languages, yet regards all of its parishioners as part of a single St. Matthias community. With regular Nigerian, Haitian, Brazilian, American and Pilipino masses, St. Matthias serves as a beacon and model of diversity in Columbus.
In that way, St. Matthias is a representative of its surrounding neighborhood, which is home to many different immigrant communities, many of whom need a place to worship. St. Matthias aims to be welcoming to all, so that everyone can enjoy their freedom to worship as they please.