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2023 Speaker Lineup

Wisconsin Catholic Youth Rally
Fr. Matthew Widder

Matthew grew up milking cows on a dairy farm in Sheboygan Falls. Later, when he was an exercise science major at UW-Eau Claire, he ventured west to California and God called him to the priesthood.

"I discovered that God wanted me to be happy, and that I would only be happy by doing his will," he says.

The calling was firm and undeniable. Matthew headed home, spoke to a priest in Eau Claire and, during Christmas break, gathered his family in its Sheboygan Falls basement and told them he was going to apply to the seminary, with the hope of becoming a priest.

"I remember my dad turning to my sister, Sarah, and telling her, 'Well, I'm going to expect more grandchildren from you then,'" Matthew remembers with a laugh.

Matthew graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2004 and entered St. Francis de Sales Seminary near Milwaukee, where he spent more than five years. He was ordained in 2010, spent three years as an associate pastor in Milwaukee, then was reassigned to Holy Name of Jesus and St. Clement Parishes in Sheboygan in 2013. In 2020, he joined the team of priests at the Catholic Community of Waukesha.

"The priesthood is an interesting life," he says. "I really love my ministry. I try at all times to communicate God's love and mercy. Sometimes, I do that in wonderful situations. Other times, it's during tough times."

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