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Message from the President - Remembering Father Armand Mathew, OMI

University Family Says Goodbye to Father Armand Mathew, OMI

 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 25, 2013The Brownsville community and The University of Texas at Brownsville community said goodbye to a good and dear friend, Father Armand Mathew, OMI, on Wednesday, June 26. 
Bishop Flores
Bishop Flores performs the final rite of commendation and farewell with incense, a sign of honor and of the community’s prayers for Father Mathew rising to the throne of God.
 
Mathew passed away Saturday, June 22 at his residence at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at the age of 90. 
 
Due to construction taking place at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, mourners filled the cathedral school auditorium for the Mass and the Rosary held the night before. 
 
The casket carrying Mathew’s body was escorted by several priests led by Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville. 
 
Reverend Arturo Flores, OMI, Area Counselor for the Southwest, gave the homily. 
 
“Justice and peace are the hallmarks of Father Mathew’s life,” said Fr. Arturo Flores. “He shared the love of Jesus in accordance with the Oblates’ founder. He reminded us that our bad decisions negatively impact the poor and those who have no voice.” 
 
Friday, June 28 would have marked the 70th anniversary of Mathew’s first vows as a priest. 
 
“The Bishop reminded us that Father Mathew worked to make the world a better place, and one way he went about this effort was by mentoring others, inspiring others to strive as he did, for social justice,” said Ethel Cantu, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, who met Mathew 30 years ago as a parishioner of the Cathedral. “Through his work at the Center for Civic Engagement, Father Mathew encouraged service learning for all UTB students, hoping they would experience the joy of making a difference in their community.” 
Mariachi Ocelotetlán
Mariachi Ocelotetlán serenaded the casket of Father Armand Mathew as it was placed in the hearse for transport to San Antonio.
 
Mathew first came to Brownsville in 1974, serving as Assistant Pastor, then Pastor at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, during which time he helped organize Valley Interfaith. 
 
The decade of the 1990s found Mathew devoting his time to work that was close to his heart as an advocate for the poor and the marginalized at the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Office of Peace and Justice in Washington, D.C. 
 
At the invitation of his good friend of 30 years, Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President, Mathew found his way back to his adopted home town to launch the Center for Civic Engagement in 2001. 
 
“When I began working at the Center for Civic Engagement, Father Mathew and I sat down and he welcomed me as family, not as just another staff member,” said Estela Martinez, CCE Administrative Assistant. 
 
Under his leadership, Mathew and the CCE took on the Kids Voting USA project, today a well-established initiative in all Brownsville public and private schools. Not being one to settle for “ok,” Mathew established Project 100%, to foster a day when everyone would cast a vote.  
 
“Father Mathew knew Kids Voting was of great value to our home town, where children in all of our schools, K-12, would grow up knowing about and learning to appreciate the privilege to vote,” Martinez said.  
 
Another who worked closely with Mathew is CCE Accounting Clerk Lupita Rosales. 
 
“The first time we met he wasn’t wearing a collar, and I didn’t know he was a priest; he gave me a hug and he welcomed me into his life,” Rosales said. “I had never before seen a priest so engaged with the community. Getting to know Father Mathew has changed my life.” 
 
The UTB Mariachi Ocelotetlán, a favorite of Mathew’s, serenaded him as his casket was carried out of the auditorium and placed in the hearse.  
 
Mathew will be transferred to San Antonio where viewing will begin at 6 p.m. and a vigil service is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, June 28 at the Oblate School of Theology Chapel, 285 Oblate Drive. A second funeral mass will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 29 at the Oblate Chapel followed by committal services in the Oblate Cemetery located on the grounds of the Oblate School.
 
In 2005, Mathew established the Kids Voting USA Brownsville Endowment at UTB. Gifts to honor Mathew’s legacy can be made to the Kids Voting USA Brownsville Endowment, UTB Office of Advancement Services, One University Blvd., Brownsville, TX 78520.

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