Since 1994, Bro. Francis “Skip” Matthews, S.M. has been a fixture in the Chaminade family. He has graced the school with his infectious smile, boundless energy, and irreplaceable spirit.
Chaminade College Preparatory is deeply saddened to announce Bro. Skip died on December 14, 2016 in Cupertino, California. He was 77 years-old, with 57 years of religious profession. The entire school family will miss his presence on campus, be it through his work in Campus Ministry, supervisory time in the cafeteria, substituting in the classroom, or to discuss social justice, the Dodgers, or the previous night’s Chaminade basketball game. You could always count on a resounding, “Hello,” if you saw an older, white pick-up truck in the parking lot.
“Bro. Skip meant the world to Chaminade’s Chatsworth community,” says Middle School Principal, Mike Valentine, “To the students he was the official greeter, the one who woke them up and started their day with an encouraging word and a smile. To the faculty and staff he was a true inspiration, mentor, and confidant. I can’t think of a single adult on campus from the faculty, to the physical plant crew, to the support staff who didn’t have a special relationship with Bro. Skip.”
A native Angeleno, Bro. Skip was raised in Manhattan Beach. He attended grade school at American Martyrs, and later Junipero Serra High School in Gardena. He professed his first vows in 1959, in Santa Cruz. He studied with the Brothers of St. John of God at their Los Angeles hospital, and learned the fundamentals of nursing and caring for the elderly. In 1962, he made perpetual profession in the Society of Mary.
In his early ministry, Bro. Skip served in health care and directed the Marianist Infirmary in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ten years later, he became a paramedic at a remote facility in Zambia. He served there for 18 years, and also assisted with work at Matero Boys Secondary School, a Marianist school in Lusaka.
Chaminade President Rob Webb reflects, “Bro. Skip traveled the world, taking the charism of Fr. Chaminade with him. He lived a very full life bringing some of the most disenfranchised, disconnected people closer to God. He cherished his time at Chaminade as much as his time anywhere else. We are all blessed to have known him.”
In addition to his ministry at Chaminade, Bro. Skip volunteered at hospice and the Good Shepherd Shelter, a safe house for battered women and children. He also visited Skid Row twice a week to help the homeless and spend time with them. For more than 20 years, from December 1 to 24, Bro. Skip set up a table and offered to write cards to family members and friends of people living on Skid Row. This year, Bro. Skip could not do his usual work, but over the summer he collected clothes for to the Good Shepherd Shelter and cards for the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. The items were recently donated to both organizations by the Marianist Community.
Bro. Skip was honored in 2013 at the Annual Brothers Mass and Banquet with the Annual Brotherhood Award. Archbishop Jose Gomez and Bro. Larry Moen, C.M.F., presented him with the award, “Honoring Bro. Skip’s religious commitment to the service of the Lord as a Marianist Religious Brother and his faithful ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles through education and outreach to the poor and the homeless.”