Matthew T. Conlin, OFM
1919 – 2012
Fr. Matthew Conlin, OFM, was born on Dec. 8, 1919 in Barker, N.Y. After completing grade school there, he began preparing for the diocesan priesthood at St. Joseph “Little Seminary” in Buffalo, N.Y. Fr. Matthew studied for two years at Our Lady of the Angels Seminary at Niagara, N.Y., University, but decided that Franciscan life offered him more diversity than diocesan life. He was received into the Order in 1940 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., and professed temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in 1944 and was ordained in 1945.
He spent the next 34 years in higher education. During formation, Fr. Matt worked on his master’s degree in English from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., and after ordination, he began teaching that subject in 1945 at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. He went on for doctoral studies in 1950 at University College, Dublin, and spent one post-doctoral year at Oxford University, England, before returning to Siena in 1953 as professor of English.
His leadership capabilities came to the forefront, and he served successively as English department chair, chair of the arts division, executive vice president and, finally, president of the college from 1970 to 1976. At the end of his term, the Albany Times Union commented that his “contributions to Siena were numerous: a continuous and measurable upgrading of academic standards and performance … opening the college to women, (and) presiding over a complete reorganization of the board of trustees.”
After 30 years of Siena, Fr. Matt began teaching as part of the faculty of The Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce, becoming fluent in Spanish. Two years later, he joined the staff of St. Anthony’s Guild and over the next three years, organized five Anthony Houses, an interfaith ministry to provide shelter and services to the homeless in Jersey City, N.J., Philadelphia, Long Island and Harlem, N.Y., and Zellwood, Fla.
In 1982, he was elected Provincial Vicar and was especially involved in planning the Province’s nursing care facility in Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Matt completed his term in 1987 and was assigned as parochial vicar for three years at Sacred Heart Parish, Rochelle Park, N.J., while he completed a graduate program in pastoral counseling at Iona College, N.Y. In 1990, he joined the staff at St. Francis Retreat Center, Rye Beach, N.H., but the following year was asked to become the first Franciscan pastor of St. Paul Parish, Wilmington, Del.
He ministered there until 1996 before returning to Siena to work on the pastoral staff of St. Francis Chapel, Albany, N.Y. Fr. Matt became a supply priest for the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., in 2002 and served as chaplain at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, N.Y.
He died on April 14, 2012 at Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Matt was 92 years old, a professed friar for 70 years and a priest for 66 years.