New pastor talks faith, unity, and high school football

Fr. Pablo Matta stands outside Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Alpine. 

Since the beginning of the Catholic Church, God has called men to the priesthood in the form of a vocation, or calling. For new pastor Fr. Pablo Matta of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, this calling has brought him a sense of fulfillment and happiness, a mission he is proud to bring to Alpine as he embarks on a new stage of his life.

Matta brings with him his nearly 30 years of pastoral experience, having served in various ministries throughout the Diocese of El Paso. Matta will also serve in St. Mary Mission of Marathon and St. Joseph Mission of Fort Davis.

After he expressed interest in serving a small community, Bishop Mark Seitz transferred Matta to Alpine, something that pleased him since it’s close to his hometown of Pecos.

Matta reflected on key moments during his time growing up there. Though not a star, he played for the Pecos Eagles football team, and vividly recalls the day when he decided the rough and tough world of the gridiron was not for him.

“I remember in one of my games I said, ‘I am not going to do this anymore, I am going to be a priest.’ We were supposed to hit each other, and sometimes we hit each other pretty hard,” he recalled.  

Even though Matta felt a calling to religious life, the teenager opted to enlist in the military, specifically the U.S. Air Force.  

“I wanted to go into the Air Force because I didn’t know if this thing with the priesthood would work out. It was something to fall back on,” he said.

But when his plans for serving his country were thwarted by a health issue, life again took a different turn. Matta went on to attend the University of Texas at El Paso, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Then he went off to seminary in Chicago, Ill., and was ordained a priest in November 1990.

The priest credits his grandparents as one of his biggest influences, and called them exemplary people who were devoted to prayer.

Matta believes wholeheartedly in the concept of unity.

“For me, it has always been about unity - that you leave no one behind,” he explained. “I feel the church is that way, too, even if their thinking is different, whether they are Republican or Democrat. I do not stand for anything that divides us or makes a person feel less than a child of God.”

Matta will reach another milestone on Nov. 25, the 30th anniversary of his ordination.

He reflected on what that milestone has meant for him, saying, “In a sense, our faith is about joy. Yes, there is sadness, but at the same time, there is hope. I want to bring that unity to Alpine in the sense that all of us could experience this spiritual connection with God as a community, and that we give hope where there seems to be hopelessness.”

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