December 6, 2020 — Father Robert B. Mathewson, SJ, died on December 6, 2020, at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California. He was 89 years old and been a Jesuit for 71 years, 58 as an ordained priest.
Fr. Mathewson devoted his entire career to Jesuit secondary education, with long stints as president at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California, and Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix. He served, at one time or another, on almost all the boards of the province’s high schools and was a key member of the team that helped keep Jesuit High School in Sacramento going during a challenging time.
After graduating from Loyola High School of Los Angeles, Fr. Mathewson joined the Jesuits in 1949. After his ordination in 1962, he earned a master’s degree from USC. A few months later, he established the first counseling office at St. Ignatius High School (SI) in San Francisco.
After two years at SI, Fr. Mathewson spent the next 13 years as principal and, later, president of Bellarmine College Prep, where he hired the school’s first female faculty member and prioritized the counseling office. Next missioned to Brophy College Prep, he served for almost two decades, including as president. As president, he transformed the campus with the addition of several new buildings.
Fr. Mathewson served for one year as interim president at Loyola High School and then spent the next two decades serving again at Bellarmine College Prep. In 2018, he moved to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, to pray for the Church and the Society.
In 2013, Santa Clara University presented Fr. Mathewson with an honorary degree, calling him “a devoted champion” of Jesuit secondary education for reforms he instituted, including hiring more lay teachers and expanding financial aid endowments for students at the margins.
Funeral Masses at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center are currently not open to the public because of Covid-19 restrictions. To view Fr. Mathewson’s livestreamed funeral Mass, click here.