In the summer of 1975, a small prayer group that had been studying scriptures in the book of Matthew felt led to apply Christ’s instructions and improve the lives of people in the community. Father Tom O'Connor, who had been serving soup to people in need from the rectory's back door, recognized that those same neighbors needed health services. For eight months, a small group, led by the Holy Spirit, met at St. Mary's rectory to explore how to turn their ideas into reality. On May 1, 1976, the Matthew 25 Health Clinic on Clay Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana, opened its doors to provide health education and screenings for those less fortunate.
Immediately, it became apparent that there was also a need for dental care. Leaders sought out dentists who would be willing to take referrals from Matthew 25. By 1979, a dental clinic was established in a house across from the health clinic.
At that time, the clinics were operated entirely by volunteers—laypeople and professionals—and growing support from churches as well as individuals.
The Next Step
In the spring of 1983, the board began a formal investigation of a new site for the Clinic. By March of the next year, a building campaign was launched to raise $100,000. And that September, a purchase agreement was signed for the new facility. In January 1985, the two clinics moved under one roof at the current location, 413 E. Jefferson Blvd., which is less than a block away from the original site. During that time, the clinic gained recognition from the city and even beyond. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized Matthew 25 as a distinguished community health protection program and presented the Secretary's Award for Excellence. Also, the Alfred Adier Institute recognized Matthew 25 for outstanding community service.
In the early 1990s, demand for services outgrew capacity. The board looked at a building expansion and held another fund-raising drive. In May of 1994, the expansion tripled the clinic’s space from 2,700 to 8,300 square feet, and a part-time nurse practitioner was hired. The Clinic celebrated its 20th anniversary in May of 1996.
The early 2000s saw a crowded lobby, the patient assistance department working in a conference room and exam rooms backed up; Matthew 25 was busting at the seams. Once again, the board recognized that more space and technology was needed to continue the mission. On March 2, 2006, a $2.9 million dollar capital campaign was launched. By May of that year, they held a ground breaking ceremony for a new addition at same site. February 27, 2007, marked the dedication of the facility, with The Helen Van Armen Eye Clinic dedicated on May 31.
Patient Education Expansion
With the need for even more space, Matthew 25 launched a $1.5 million dollar capital campaign in 2016. By the end of the summer, site work began in the west parking lot. This project involved the construction of a two-story patient education center onto the existing clinic. Counseling rooms were also added for mental health services. The investment in this new facility would allow the clinic to better serve Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities for years to come. The patient education center opened at the beginning of 2017. Additionally, the old gravel parking lot was redone, paving way for what is now the employee parking lot.
Along Jefferson Boulevard, passersby may see the beautiful garden honoring the memory of Grace Mastrangelo, the late wife of longtime volunteer Dr. Michael Mastrangelo. Inside the clinic, a chapel, or prayer room, was added that was donated by Ed Clark in honor of Dr. Jim and Judy Frey.
Matthew 25 had become a well-respected and vital resource in the community. Over time, more and more services had been added with higher acuity. Research showed some misperceptions existed about the level of care and breadth of services offered. So in 2020, Matthew 25 launched an updated name and logo with the goal of reaching more people and making a larger impact. The Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic would now be known as Matthew 25 Health and Care and the facility would be referred to as a center instead of various clinics. A cross was incorporated into the logo to reflect the center’s spiritual values. Adding the word “and” helped separate healthcare into two thoughts that emphasize “care” rather than the generic term that applies to all health services.
Today, more than 400 people volunteer at Matthew 25, including laypeople and health professionals. With their help, the center provides care for a wide range of medical, dental, vision, and mental health needs—from common illnesses and injuries to ongoing diseases and conditions. More than 20 specialty clinics help to make up a well-rounded list of services. And this is all provided at no cost to uninsured, low-income adults.
Throughout the past forty-plus years, and still today, the prayers and dreams of the originating prayer group are alive. Matthew 25 continues to honor its namesake verses by offering extensive, high-quality healthcare to those who are less fortunate. “I was sick and you looked after me… Truly, I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:36, 40 (NIV)