Francis Matthews Dies

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LIVERPOOL, N.Y. — Francis Matthews, OFM, 48, a professed Franciscan friar for 25 years and a priest for 19 years, died May 29 in his home in Liverpool. N.Y.

A wake service was held June 3 in Liverpool. His classmate, John Marino, OFM, led the Vigil Service and preached a eulogy. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated  June 4 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse, N.Y.; this was the 25th anniversary of  Francis’ profesion.  Dominic Monti, OFM, Provincial Vicar, presided and another classmate, Daniel Dwyer, OFM, preached the homily. Burial followed at Assumption Cemetery, Syracuse, with classmate Paul Breslin, OFM, leading the committal prayers.

Francis was born Oct. 4, 1959, the feast of St. Francis, in Syracuse, N.Y., to George and Theresa Matthews. He was baptized on Oct.  25, 1959 at St. John the Baptist Church and attended the parish elementary school. He was a 1977 graduate of St. John the Baptist High School and a 1981 graduate of Canisius College, Buffalo, N.Y.

He was received into the Franciscan Order on June 17, 1982, at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Mass., and made his first profession of vows there on June 4, 1983, both before Alban Maguire, OFM. He then studied theology at the Washington Theological Union in Silver Spring, Md., receiving his MA in missiology in 1988. On June 20, 1987, he made his solemn profession of vows at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City, before Anthony Carrozzo, OFM. He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 10, 1988, by Archbishop Samuel Carter, SJ, of Kingston, Jamaica, at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md.

Following ordination, from 1988 until 1992 he was assigned to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, were he taught philosophy and theology to seminarians. He was parochial vicar for six months at St. Anthony Parish in Camden, N.J., then for three years he worked as parochial vicar and director of the St. Francis AIDS Ministry, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. For the next two years, he was accepted to a federal clerkship position in Newark, N.J.

In 1999, Francis received his law degree from Fordham University, New York City, and he held a certificate in International Humanitarian Law. From 1999 until 2006, he was granted permission for a leave of absence for vocational discernment. During these years, he was engaged in providing legal aid. In June 2006, he returned to the Province, being given permission to continue his legal aid work and assisting at various parishes in the diocese of Syracuse until this year’s Chapter.  He was planning on being assigned to one of the houses of the Province this summer, according to Dominic.

Francis is survived by his sister, Rita Matthews of Liverpool, and brothers, Thomas of Michigan, Dennis of Massachusetts, Dr. Mark of Colorado, Robert of Albany, and two uncles and several nieces and nephews. Condolences may be sent to Rita Matthews at 4192 Tommy’s Trail, Liverpool NY 13090-3737.