18 Year Old Matthew Bobela Receives Mayors’ Citizen Award

Matthew holds his Mayor’s award beside a statue of the Blessed Mother in the Cathedral of St. Joseph. (Sara Kraft photo)

By Sara Kraft

“They should have had a camera when the award was announced – I was thoroughly shocked!” recalled 18 year old Matthew Bobela. Recently, St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray awarded Matthew one of two Mayors’ Distinguished Citizen Awards, presented annually at the Mayors’ Thanksgiving Dinner to support Second Harvest Food Bank. The Mayors’ Thanksgiving Dinner has been an annual event for more than 30 years. Proceeds go to the Second Harvest Community Food Bank to help feed the hungry. Mayor McMurray was joined by former St. Joseph Mayors Bill Falkner, Glenda Kelly, Larry R. Stobbs, David J. Jones and Ken Shearin to host the event.

Awards are given by the Food Bank to two businesses for their significant support and by the mayors to two outstanding citizens, youth and adult. Matthew was the youth recipient, and the adult award went to a husband and wife, Pastor Robert and Kimberly Warren.

Mayor McMurray had called Matthew’s mother at work in order to get Matthew to the dinner without letting Matthew know he had won the award.

“What’s inspiring about Matthew is not only his tremendous talent but also his altruistic application of that talent,” Mayor McMurray said, “notably in the service of Sacred Music for the Church.”

“What an honor for Mayor McMurray to think of me in his first term in St. Joseph. That was quite the honor,” Matthew said.

Each weekend, Matthew assists at four or five different Masses in three different languages – English, Spanish, and Latin. These Masses also take place at three different parishes – St. James Parish, St. Patrick Parish and Cathedral Parish in St. Joseph. “God works so much through music. St. Augustine says singing is like praying twice. God did not have to give me a musical gift. I am so grateful for that and I want to give that back to him,” explained Matthew.

“I have been surrounded by music since I was young,” he added. His mother has been the organist at St. Patrick’s Parish in St. Joseph since his childhood. “My love of music started in church.”

Following graduation from Bishop LeBlond High School in 2018, his love of music led Matthew to teach kindergarten through 8th grade music part-time at St. James School in St. Joseph. Additionally, Matthew is a freshman at Missouri Western State University and is pursuing degrees in Vocal Music Education and Mathematics. He also serves on the St. Joseph Community Choir Board of Directors.

Matthew also is the founder and director of the Polyphonic Schola of St. Joseph. This choir sings for Solemn High Masses and Masses with Bishop Johnston. Additionally, the choir recently sang at the 10th annual St. Cecilia Music Festival at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. The group includes Catholics, a retired Episcopal priest, his wife, and a few other Protestants and non-practicing Catholics who sing the sacred music for the love of the music. Despite the differences in faith, all of the choir actively participates in the Mass. He is grateful for the opportunity to use this music “for its original purpose of glorifying God in the Mass.” Matthew is also the director of the Cathedral of St. Joseph choir.

“I am so thankful to God for everything he has given me. I know I would not be where I am today if it was not for Him working through those who formed and shaped me in my childhood,” Matthew said.

Following graduation from Missouri Western State University, Matthew hopes to be a music teacher in the Catholic education system or perhaps get a degree in sacred music, so he can show how God can work through music and how that can change people’s lives.


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October 20, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph