Catholic Artist Community in New York – In Progress!

by Cole Matson

It has been over a year since I last posted on this blog, so I thought I would give you an update. In honor of Thanksgiving, I am very thankful to God and to all the people who have brought me to where I am now.

In April 2015, I moved into the Domus Porta Fidei at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, Long Island as a Visiting Scholar, to complete my PhD dissertation.

In June, I moved into the Sheen Center in Manhattan, the Archdiocese of New York’s new arts center, as their first artist-in-residence. My primary responsibility as regards the Sheen Center is to help find other Catholic artists, of all disciplines, to be in residence for 2-4 months at a time. If you are interested in applying to be an artist-in-residence, please go here.

In August I submitted my PhD dissertation, and successfully defended it in October. I am currently completing my minor corrections.

This month, I started working part-time as the Molloy BFA Theatre Arts Program Coordinator at CAP21, a musical theatre conservatory in Manhattan.

All these activities are in support of my primary purpose in coming to New York City: to help found a residential lay community for Catholic artists, and hopefully, in time, an institute of consecrated life dedicated to ministry through the arts and to artists.

With the support of my spiritual director and witnessed by a priest who knows me, I have vowed to dedicate myself to God through the practice of the evangelical counsels (interpreted as simplicity of life, apostolic celibacy, and availability for service) in a life of prayer and work given for the spiritual needs of artists.

Last month, four other artists and myself founded a de facto lay association of the faithful, called the Catholic Artist Community of St. John Paul the Great, with the mission of supporting the spiritual and professional development of Catholic artists in the Archdiocese of New York by providing a house of prayer where artists can live in intentional community for their mutual support, in order to encourage each other as Catholics and as artists, and to be a base of service to the wider arts community and people of the Archdiocese and of New York City.

Members of the community participated in a weekend retreat for artists last month, which I organized and which took place at St. Mary’s Monastery in Petersham, Massachusetts.

I have spent the past several months meeting artists in the Archdiocese, to talk about the needs that they see for artists. The following initiatives have been most commonly repeated:

  1. A residential house of prayer in which artists can live together in intentional community for their mutual support and spiritual formation.
  2. A schedule of retreats and spiritual programs for artists, including both spiritual and creative retreats, as well as help obtaining regular spiritual direction.
  3. Social and networking gatherings to meet fellow Catholic artists, including the potential for artistic collaboration, and talks with leading Catholics working professionally in the arts.
  4. A central website with a portfolio database patrons can use to commission artists, an extensive list of resources useful for artists, and a blog with interviews, articles, announcements, and other content of interest to Catholic artists.

Locating a suitable house for a residential community that can house 3-12 artists has been my primary focus, and I am continuing to pursue all avenues, including meeting with Archdiocesan officials and members of religious orders. If you would like to offer the community a place to live or help us locate suitable housing, please contact me.

We have already held one retreat, and more are planned. Social gatherings and a central website will follow.

Please keep us in your prayers, and let me know if you would like to learn more or assist in any way.

Yours in Christ,

Cole

St. John Paul the Great, encourager of artists, pray for us.

Resources for Artists:

The Actors’ Chapel
Catholic Artists Society
The Sheen Center

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