Oakland’s ‘Father Jay’ Matthews Dies at 70

Father Jay Matthews

 The Rev. James Matthews was the first African American to be ordained in Northern California, in 1974. He passed away suddenly of an apparent heart attack Saturday evening. He was 70 years old.

In 2014, the Oakland City Council honored Rev. Matthews, recognizing May 6 as “Father Jay Matthews Day.”

He served as the pastor at St. Benedict Church in Oakland from 1984 to 2015. He also served as vicar for Black Catholics, as a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and as a chaplain for the Oakland Police Department and Fire Department.

He was born in Berkeley, and raised in Oakland.


The times and dates of the services for Father James ‘Jay’ Matthews are as follows:
-Sunday, April 7, 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Procession of Fr. Jay’s body from St. Benedict Church to the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
-Sunday, April 7, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Viewing and Visitation at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
-Sunday, April 7, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Vigil Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, with reception to follow at the Cathedral Center.
-Monday, April 8, 7:00 PM
Funeral Liturgy / Mass of Christian Burial
Cathedral of Christ the Light, with a reception to follow at the Cathedral Center
-Monday, April 8, after the Funeral Liturgy 
A gathering to honor Father Jay back at St. Benedict Parish in East Oakland
-Tuesday, April 9, 11:00 AM
Committal/Burial, St. Joseph Cemetery, San Pablo



California Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement on the passing of Father James Matthews of The Cathedral of Christ the Light Oakland:


“California stands with Oakland and Catholics across California as we mourn the passing of Father Jay Matthews. Father Jay was a trailblazer and ambassador who built bridges between people of different faiths and communities. Quick to lend a helping hand, he embodied the California values of generosity and acceptance. Father Jay has made a lasting imprint and set an example for all of us to aspire too.”



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