Former Siena College President Matthew Conlin Dies

Theresa Bartha and Dominic Monti, OFM Friar News

RINGWOOD, N.J. — Matthew Conlin, OFM, died April 14 at Holy Name Friary. The 92-year-old former Siena College president was a professed friar for 70 years and a priest for 66.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on April 27 at St. Mary of the Angels Chapel, Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville NY. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, will be principal celebrant, and Hugh Hines, OFM — another former Siena president — will deliver the homily. Matthew’s ashes will be buried at a later date.

Early Years
Born Dec. 8, 1919, in Barker, N.Y., to Frank and Hannah Conlin, Matthew attended the Diocese of Buffalo’s minor seminary for high school. He then studied at Niagara University for two years before joining the Order of Friars Minor.

In August 1940, he entered Holy Name Province at St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, N.J., and professed simple vows there the following year. Matthew professed his final vows on Sept. 17, 1944, in Washington, D.C. He was ordained a priest in 1945.

Following his ordination, Matthew spent the next 34 years in higher education.

In fall 1945, he began teaching in the Siena College English Department. After doctoral studies at University College in Dublin and Oxford University from 1950 to 1953, he returned to Siena College where he was successively professor, chairperson of the English department, dean, vice president for academic affairs, and finally president of the college from 1970 to 1976.

Matthew’s skills as a teacher “were legendary and many of his students tell stories of his profound influence in their professional and personal lives,” Siena president Kevin Mullen, OFM, wrote in a letter to the community.

Under his direction, Siena College expanded greatly and became a center of academic excellence. After completing his term as president, Matthew taught at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce from 1976 to 1979.

In 1979, Matthew — along with St. Anthony’s Guild director Salvator Fink, OFM — founded Anthony Houses, Inc., five residences for the needy. Matthew served as its director, based in Jersey City, N.J., until 1982, when he was elected Provincial Vicar. He served in that position until 1987.

From 1987 to 1990, Matthew was parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, N.J., while completing a graduate program in pastoral counseling at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. He then served for one year at St. Francis Retreat Center in Rye Beach, N.H. From 1991 until 1996, he was pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington, Del.

In 1996, Matthew returned to the friary at Siena College, serving on the staff of St. Francis Chapel in nearby Colonie, N.Y. During his final seven years at Siena, he worked as a prison chaplain at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, N.Y. In October 2009, following a stroke, he was transferred to Holy Name Friary, the Province’s long-term care facility.

Matthew is survived by nieces Eileen Kelly of Arlington, Mass., and Liza Wyle of North Conway, N.H., and nephews Mark Blankenberg of Amherst, N.Y., Paul Blankenberg of Silver Creek, N.Y., and Michael Heeremans of White River Junction, Vt. Condolences may be sent to: Eileen Kelly, 6 Hodge Road, Arlington MA 02474.

Memorial contributions may be sent to The Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, Office of Development, 144 West 32nd Street, New York NY 10001-3202.

— Compiled by Theresa Bartha and Dominic Monti, OFM