Matthew L. Gaskin, OFM
1921 – 2010
Fr. Matthew Gaskin, OFM, was born Nov. 20, 1921 in Buffalo, N.Y. He was educated at the parish elementary school and Louis J. Bennett High School, graduating in 1939. After working with his father’s company for a year, he enrolled at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.J.
He entered the Order in 1944 at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and professed first vows there one year later. Fr. Matthew made his solemn profession in 1948 and was ordained in 1950. Upon completion of his studies at Holy Name College, Washington, in 1951, Fr. Matthew was assigned to the Pontifical Anthonian Athenaeum in Rome, where he earned his licentiate in sacred theology.
After serving one year at St. Francis Friary in New York City as secretary to the Provincial Minister, Fr. Matthew joined the faculty of Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1953. Five years later, he began a fruitful ministry as a preacher of retreats, residing over the next decade at friaries in Butler and Lafayette and Paterson, N.J., and Boston. He interrupted his ministry from 1964 to 1966 to advance his theological studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington.
An outstanding and charismatic preacher, Fr. Matthew had a special rapport with young people. He could hold their attention, even when their number was 500 or more. Part of his magic was his gift of affability and understanding. In 1968, Fr. Matthew entered full-time ministry with the Movement for a Better World, being elected national director in 1969. The next year, however, he returned to ministry in the Province, becoming assistant pastor of Holy Cross Parish, Bronx, N.Y.
His desire to work with youth led him to return to Buffalo in 1971 as campus minister and faculty minister at Villa Maria College and St. Joseph High School. He began serving in parish ministry three years later, first as assistant pastor of St. Joseph Parish, West Milford, N.J., and then as pastor of St. Catherine of Bologna Church in Ringwood, N.J., from 1976 to 1979. During this time, he also served as episcopal vicar for the Upper Passaic Deanery of the Diocese of Paterson.
In 1979, Fr. Matthew returned to Buffalo to be closer to his ailing parents. He served as campus minister of the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1979 to 1982, and then on the faculty of Bishop Timon High School from 1982 to 1984. In 1982, he also began his long association with the Secular Franciscan Order as spiritual assistant for the fraternities of Western New York.
His success led him to be named Provincial Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscans in 1984. He modeled a generous and caring Franciscan spirit in this position until 2001. From 1993 to 1999, he also served as OFM National Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order as well. During this time, the Secular Franciscans were going through a crucial period of change as they moved from a traditional structure under the director of First Order provinces to national regionalization.
He continued residing in Buffalo until 1986, when he moved to St. Francis Friary in New York City. One year later, Fr. Matthew settled at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., which remained his home for the next 17 years. He took up residence at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., in 2004.
He died on June 5, 2010 at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Matthew was 88 years old, a professed Franciscan friar for 64 years. He would have celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination on June 11.