18-year-old Parishioner Matthew recognised as Sheriff’s Young Citizen of the Year

Wednesday 24th March 2021

An 18-year-old from the parish of St Catherine of Siena in Didsbury has been recognised as Young Citizen of the Year in the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester’s awards, for his digital efforts throughout the pandemic.

After the first lockdown, Matthew Montgomery moved all of the parish Masses from St Catherine’s onto YouTube so that people could remain connected to their faith through the pandemic.

Over the last year, Matthew has singlehandedly edited videos, as well as recording audio from the Mass, including: Music, Readings, Acclamations, Psalms, Prayers, and of course pictures of the Children who have created art which is normally part of ‘little church’.

When asked why he chose to support the parish, Matthew said: “The main reason I was motivated to help the Parish is because our community has always helped each other and I felt as though it was my turn to restore some normality into people’s lives as we all dealt with the pandemic in our own way.

“There are stories in the world where religion has helped people in difficult and uncertain times so I knew many people would benefit from it. It was also good for me to learn a new skill which is video editing, I had only been teaching myself for a couple of months! It allowed me to learn the skills at an exponential rate. I also learnt that my true calling in life was creating videos.”

170 videos later, and Matthew’s contributions have been far-reaching. The parish have received messages from people as far away as America: “A woman wrote to us to say that we managed to make her feel a part of the community even though she has never been to our church, seen or talked to our priests or parishioners! I never thought it would have this effect.

“I feel honoured to know that people value the work I put in and to know that I was picked out of thousands of applicants across Manchester is mind blowing. I never set out to get recognition for doing something as simple as giving back to the community and people that I have surrounded myself with my whole life.

“It’s taken a few days for the news to settle in and I can say that I am proud of myself. But if it wasn’t for the Priests being willing enough to put themselves in front of a camera, we would not have even have a channel in the first place.”

Fr Michael Deas, who nominated Matthew, said: “Someone brought this award to my attention and I thought, ‘I just have to nominate Matthew.’ The award is for those who have made an outstanding contribution by helping improve the lives of others, and Matthew has certainly done that. His work behind the scenes has brought our whole community together.

“Without Matthew we would not have been able to reach so many people and keep our community so positive and connected in such difficult times. The feedback we have received from so many people both in our own parish and from around the world shows how Matthew’s amazing work has had an extraordinary impact. He is a true unsung hero.”

Eamonn O’Neal DL, High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, added: “As Her Majesty’s High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, I wanted to recognise and acknowledge the young people who are making positive impacts upon their communities through these difficult times. Matthew is one of those people. In the early part of lockdown, he used his knowledge, expertise and his own money to provided the technology for online Masses, realising  how important this service was to keep people connected, offer them hope, and to serve their spiritual needs.  He has also been making videos to maintain contact between the clergy and parishioners.

“He did all this – and more –  whilst studying for A-levels at college. He is also a dedicated member of the parish Scout group where he enjoys taking on more and more leadership roles.

“Matthew’s efforts have been selfless and extremely impressive. This is a fine example of Faith in action and he deserves this High Sheriff Award and our many congratulations.”

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