Fr. O.P. Mathew was the first vocation and the first Jesuit from the Chirackal Mission in Kerala founded by the Italian missionaries. He joined the Society as a Brother, but was later ordained a priest at 55. Born in 1945 in humble circumstances, he lost his father while still a child. So the Boys’ Home run by the Mission in Mattul became his home. The life of the missionaries attracted him to the Society. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Christ Hall in 1966. Mathew turned out to be a hard-working and exemplary Brother. He never forgot his roots, and this made him kind and sensitive to all. He proved it with his empathy for the poor and orphaned students at St Vincent Boys’ Home, Kozhikode where he was in-charge. He helped many of them in getting special training and decent jobs. Mathew was aged 45, and 25 years a Jesuit when, after completing his Master’s in Sociology privately, he was inspired to apply for priesthood. Devoting ten more years in priestly studies, he was ordained in 2000 at Mattul, his home parish. He spent the initial years of priesthood in different parishes in the diocese of Trivandrum. Later, he was transferred to Pariyaram, Kannur, to assist Fr Zucol, the great Italian missionary. Mathew accompanied the octogenarian in every activity of the parish. The work was heavy and he became partially paralyzed. The death of Fr Zucol added to his failing health, and gradually he became bed- ridden. Still he was optimistic and desirous of returning to his mission, but the Lord had other plans for him. Mathew breathed his last on the feast of St. Francis Xavier. Like St. Francis, his eyes were set on his mission even in death.
- Raphael Thottan, SJ