Mary Ann Dunn has been a fixture at St. Matthew Church in Franklin almost as long as the parish itself has existed.
As Lay Pastoral Minister, she has been responsible for founding 21 different ministries at St. Matthew. This spring, she will be retiring from that position after 30 years of service to the church. The parish will honor her at the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 17.
Dunn and her husband joined St. Matthew in 1985 after his job relocated them from Florida to Nashville. With the couple’s three daughters grown and living away from home, Dunn had plenty of time to get involved in parish activities. At first, there were very few parish groups in which she could get involved. She asked God for guidance and He has used her to help build a thriving lay ministry program and culture of volunteerism at St. Matthew.
“I asked God to let me know where He needed me and He has led me every step of the way,” she said. “I started volunteering in 1986 with Loaves and Fishes and nursing homes. Over the next four years, as I was constantly volunteering at church and loving every minute of it, I felt called to something greater in my church involvement.
“In 1990, I enrolled in the three year Ministry and Leadership Formation Program offered by the diocese, and was commissioned a Lay Pastoral Minister for the Diocese of Nashville in 1993,” Dunn said. Soon after her commissioning, she joined the parish staff at St. Matthew and has held her position there ever since.
Her job description involves discerning parishioners’ needs, implementing programs and ministries, and training volunteers to staff new ministries.
Her main areas of volunteer focus have been centered on caring for the sick, the dying, hospital patients, and the homebound. But she has been involved in many different types of ministries at St. Matthew and is still very actively involved to this day. She is currently a part of St. Matthew Church’s Healing Prayer Ministry, in charge of the Eucharistic Ministers program, in charge of the Sick/Homebound Ministry, a co-advisor for the church’s Parish Life and Evangelization Committee, in charge of the parish’s Lunch Bunch group, and in charge of the parish Nursing Home Ministry.
After her retirement, Dunn and her husband are returning to Florida to live closer to their family. “I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my husband, our three daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. And I’m sure I’ll be volunteering at the church we join as well. But mainly, my husband and I are looking forward to having our family nearby again.”
Dunn feels blessed to have spent the last 30 years as a part of the St. Matthew community. “It has been a joy working with so many wonderful people; from the four pastors I’ve worked with, to the church staff, to the countless volunteers through the years who would always lend a hand with projects and programs,” she said. “Nothing gets done at a church unless you have volunteers to help and St. Matthew’s volunteer spirit is remarkable. The people of St. Matthew are the most welcoming ones I’ve ever met, and each one will hold a special place in my heart.”