A former Episcopal Vicar for Religious in the archdiocese and Montfort Missionary priest, Father Fred Matthews, died on Thursday 22 January at the age of 88.
John Frederick Matthews was born on 25 September 1926 in Blackpool, after attending primary school in the town; he studied at Montfort College in Romsey, and entered the novitiate of the Montfort Missionaries in Ashurst, Hampshire in 1944, where he made his first religious profession on 27 September 1945. He then studied philosophy and theology at Leagram Hall, Chipping, and from 1946 in Church Stretton, Shropshire. He made his perpetual profession in Church Stretton on 27 September 1950, and a short time later was ordained deacon. He was ordained to the priesthood in St Cuthbert’s, Blackpool on 7 October 1950.
In 1951, he went to Montfort College to teach Latin and French; then in 1955 began studies at Southampton University which led to a BA in Philosophy, Latin, French and Spanish. During this time he lived at Nazareth House in Southampton, and acted as chaplain to the Sisters of Nazareth. In 1958 he returned to Montfort College, to teach Latin, French and Roman History.
In 1965 he was sent to Barrhead in Scotland to be director of the new provincial seminary, and also to act as Vocations Director for Scotland. The following year he returned to Montfort College to be Superior and headmaster of the school.
In 1970, Father Fred became Provincial Superior of the Province of Great Britain and Ireland and was re-elected in 1976, serving as Provincial for a total of twelve years based in London. In 1975 he became President of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors for England and Wales, an appointment that was renewed in 1981.
In 1982, Father Fred moved to Liverpool, where he was appointed by Archbishop Derek Worlock to be Episcopal Vicar for Religious for the Archdiocese and a member of the Archbishop’s Council. He also took on the responsibility of the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in Gateacre for several years.
In retirement he continued to serve some of the local convents until ill health made it necessary for him to enter Nazareth House, in Crosby. As his health deteriorated, he was taken into St Joseph’s Hospice, Thornton, where he died. He is remembered with great affection by many people, especially the Religious and former Religious that he helped during his years as Episcopal Vicar.
His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St Peter and St Paul church, Crosby, on Thursday 28 January prior to burial in the churchyard there.