Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The University of Texas at Brownsville has lost a dear friend and colleague.
It is with great sadness that we learned Father Armand Mathew, OMI, passed away Saturday, June 22 at his residence at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at the age of 90.
Padre dedicated his life to being an advocate for social justice and challenged each of us to join him in the battle against indifference. He was humble and of kind heart; he had unlimited courage and stamina.
He loved without limit and condition and taught us to try to live a life that made a difference in the lives of others. He lent us his courage and expected us to do the same for others. He never gave up on a cause he believed in nor would he let us give up either.
Knowing him we have known an angel among us.
Father Mathew was born Oct. 21, 1922, the youngest of 10 children to devout Catholic parents in rural Indiana. When the Great Depression hit, his father moved the family to Chicago to open produce stores, where all the children worked.
Father Mathew was the recipient of a scholarship to attend Chicago’s St. Ignatius Jesuit High School, where he graduated in 1940. In 1943, he entered the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and was ordinated to the priesthood in 1949.
He told his friends that his work as an Oblate was the adventure he had always hoped for. That lifetime commitment took him on different missions…from teaching in San Antonio, studying in Rome and Notre Dame, community organizing in Chicago, helping the poor in Panama -- where he nearly lost his life to hepatitis -- to serving the parish of Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville for 16 years.
During the 1980s when he was pastor of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, he was instrumental in starting Valley Interfaith, which continues today.
After leaving Brownsville, Father Mathew continued his work with Valley Interfaith for four years, based out of San Juan, Texas. He then served for ten years at the OMI Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Washington, D.C., where he worked tirelessly on such issues as cancellation of debt of developing countries and the elimination of land mines.
Brownsville was blessed again when Father Mathew found his way back to his adopted home town, where his many friends greeted him warmly and immediately put him to work at what he does best – trying to make the world a better place for everyone.
He joined the university in 2001 to launch the Center for Civic Engagement. Passionate about public involvement in civic matters, Father Mathew and the CCE took on the Kids Voting USA project, nurturing the initiative to what it has become today – an established component of the K-12 curriculum throughout all Brownsville schools.
At a celebration of his 90th birthday, he spoke of his life as being "enchanted" telling those in attendance…
"I could live a 1000 years and never merit the love and generosity and the respect and friendship that I have received as a priest…you just don’t merit that, it comes to you as a reward"
Father Mathew is survived by his one sister, Viola, living in Chicago.
With great sadness and fond memories,
Juliet V. García
Funeral arrangements published in the Brownsville Herald on June 24, 2013:
Viewing will begin at 10 a.m. and continue through 2 p.m. in the East Chapel at Darling-Mouser Funeral Home on Tuesday, June 25. Fr. Mathew's body will then be transferred to the Auditorium at Immaculate Conception where viewing will resume at 3 p.m. and continue through 9 p.m. with the recitation of the holy rosary scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday evening. A Funeral Mass of Christian Resurrection will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26 in the Auditorium at Immaculate Conception. All local services will conclude after Mass on Wednesday and Fr. Mathew will then 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, San Antonio, Texas. A second Funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29 at the Oblate Chapel followed by committal services in the Oblate Cemetery located on the grounds of the Oblate School.
Memorial gifts in Fr. Mathew's name may be made to Immaculate Conception Cathedral, 1218 E. Jefferson St., Brownsville, TX 78520 or Kids Voting, c/o Center for Civic Engagement, 1301 E. Madison St., Brownsville, TX 78520, 956-882-4300.
Friends may sign the guestbook and send condolences online to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at www.darling-mouser.com.
Local funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Darling-Mouser Funeral Home, 945 Palm Blvd, Brownsville, Texas 78520, and 956-546-7111; in San Antonio, funeral arrangements will be entrusted to The Angelus, 1119 N. St. Mary's, San Antonio, TX 78215, and 210-227-1461.