By Roberta Cianciosi
Since summer vacation began, a Maricopa boy has been making daily visits to the site of the future Our Lady of Grace Church, which is scheduled to open in early 2016.
His name is Matthew Sabetta, and when you meet him you’re immediately touched by his kindness and enthusiasm. Matthew turned 13 in July, and his visits to the worksite make his days complete.
“It’s a special treat for me,” Matthew said. “I see cement trucks, pumper trucks and I get to talk to people.”
Last spring and summer, he and his grandmother Melanie Warthman watched workers complete the infrastructure for the new church and joined in the celebration of the Lighting of the Lights ceremony. He was already planning then to visit the site once work began on the project.
“This is our home away from home,” Warthman said. “We come each day and stay awhile watching the men work to complete the project.”
When parishioners joined Rev. Marcos Velásquez for the groundbreaking in March, Matthew arrived with his hard hat and met several members of the team building the new church. Dean Schifferer, the general manager of Redden Construction, presented him with one of the ceremonial shovels marking the occasion.
With the exception of a short respite to Disneyland, he hasn’t missed a day. His enthusiasm is so infectious that he and his grandmother were at the site before sunrise to watch the pouring of the cement floor. When he visits, Matthew’s favorite spot is the observation deck on the south side, which eventually will be the sanctuary.
“We missed him while he was away,” foreman Carl Utz said. “He makes us stay on top of things, especially with the cement trucks. He’s very pleasant to have around.”
“Mr. Utz has given Matthew a lot of special treatment and he’s been just awesome,” Warthman said.
She and Matthew brought lunch for the crew one day, and, as a reward, Matthew was given a tour of the work being completed. His initials will forever be a part of the floor of the new church’s sanctuary.
“I met Matthew during one of his visits to the site with his grandmother,” Doug McInelly said. “He’s always excited when someone takes the time to talk with him. Our crew really appreciated the time he brought lunch for everyone on the site. It was a special time when we took a picture of all of us with Matthew after lunch. It’s wonderful to see how interested Matthew is in everything every day.”
Visiting each day is special for him, and he even says a prayer for the workers beginning with the Our Father and adding “keep them safe and don’t let them fall.”
“Matthew exemplifies the pure joy and excitement that the parishioners and the constructors have, or should have for the church,” Schifferer said. “We can all be inspired and encouraged knowing that all the challenges will be worth it, when generations to come will be blessed by a wonderful church.”
“It’s exciting to see that level of interest from Matthew,” Project Manager Eric Peterson said. “I have never seen such excitement and interest in all my years of construction. I think we can all learn from his enthusiasm.”
Matthew is going back to school, but that doesn’t mean the visits to the site will stop. He’s planning to stop by before school, and he’ll be there on half-days as well as days off.