Biographies

Father Joseph W. Matheis, MM

Born: February 24, 1928
Ordained: June 9, 1956
Died: March 31, 2002

Father Joseph W. Matheis died at St. Teresa’s Residence on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2002. He was 74 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 45 years.

Joseph was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 24, 1928, the second son of Frank and Lottie Doores Matheis. The family moved to Chicago when Joseph was two months old, and this is where he grew up. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II, he attended St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. Father Matheis received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Ambrose and did post-graduate work at the University of Illinois. He entered Maryknoll in September 1952 from St. Gertrude’s Parish in Chicago after completing his first year of theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.

Father Matheis was ordained on June 9, 1956 at Maryknoll, New York and assigned to Hawaii where he worked in mission for over forty years. Father Matheis served in Honolulu as pastor of Maryknoll’s oldest parish, Sacred Heart. He worked on both the island of Oahu and the big Island of Hawaii, where he designed and built a “church-in-the-round” at Puako. He became a state-certified substance abuse counselor for the State of Hawaii after studying at Rutgers University, New Jersey; Hazeldon, Minnesota, and other places. He was well known in the whole state of Hawaii, and influenced many people in his various assignments over the years.

Father Matheis said that work in Hawaii’s multi-cultured society for forty years was like serving many missions rolled into one. He was a close friend and confidant of many movie and media personalities in his early years in Hawaii. These contacts came through his ministry to the resort facilities near Puako.

In February 1993 he joined the Special Society Unit, living in a mobile home on the property of the Parish in Manoa and continuing various ministries in Honolulu. He was assigned to the Retirement Community in May of 1998, and moved to St. Teresa’s after in 1999.

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2002, at St. Teresa’s with Father Thomas A. Aheam officiating, and at 7:30 p.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Arthur J. Dwyer officiated and Brother John J. Blazo read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on Friday, April 5, 2002, at 11:00 a.m. Father Francis A. Diffley was Principal Celebrant and homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Brother Wayne J. Fitzpatrick conducting the graveside service.