On Saturday, May 12, Frank Matule ended his life journey at age 76 due to brain cancer. Born into a large family in Butte, Frank attended St. Ann’s School, Boy’s Central High School, Carroll College, St. Paul Seminary and San Francisco Theological where he received a Doctor of Ministry degree. Frank was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1967. In Missoula, he served at St. Anthony’s Parish, Christ the King Parish and the Newman Center until 1981.
Eventually Frank came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church over the role of women in the church, the near-punishment of divorced Catholics, the exclusion of people being invited to the communion table if they were not Catholic and the rule of celibacy for ordained priests. These were all matters of conscience for him and led to his dismissal. This was a very difficult time in Frank’s life. However, as one door closes, another opens, and he began working at the University of Montana as Director of Admissions and Student Enrollment. Frank relished the vibrancy of the campus and students. He loved the University and all that is part of university life.
The highlight of this period of life was his marriage to his wonderful wife Susan in 1983. For 34 years Frank and Susan were inseparable partners. Beginning each day with a “staff meeting,” they mapped out a life together that included travel, shopping, visiting greenhouses each year to plan their beautiful cottage garden, visiting with friends, and plotting their next adventure. Their daughter, Abby, was a great delight to Frank, and he loved his role as grandfather to Abby’s sons Austin and Travis. He would do anything his grandsons wanted him to, from playing laser tag to riding in go-carts. Frank cherished his role as “Pop” to Austin and Travis and considered it one of the greatest gifts of his life.
After his retirement in 2004, Frank had more time to pursue his passions. A voracious reader, he continued his scholarly study in the fields of philosophy, spirituality and science. His mentors were Marcus Borg, John Spong, Dominic Crossan, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Merton, progressive and evolutionary theologians.
Frank belonged to Spirit of Peace Community, where all people are fully accepted, active participants. There they have embraced the best of the traditional church in word and sacrament and have been sustained for 36 years as a vibrant, faith-filled spiritual community. In his many homilies at Spirit of Peace, Frank always returned to the same themes: the bottom line of all spirituality is that we are both human and divine. God is not somewhere else; rather, we all carry the spark of the divine within us, and the divine comes to expression through human beings and their relationships with others. The Spirit of God comes from the inside out, and we are the voices, the hands, the presence of God on this planet. God is waiting for our participation to bring about peace, justice and goodness. This is what we are created for; to make the power and presence of God alive through our lives.
How to describe Frank Matule? A kind and generous man, thoughtful and compassionate about social justice; Democrat, theologian, passionate gardener, faithful friend. Always fastidious, a news junkie, the first to purchase the latest tech device, avid Griz football and Mariners fan, maker of the perfect Manhattan. A wise and humble man with a dry wit and keen observer of the human condition, master teacher. A man who touched thousands of lives with big ideas and small, caring gestures.
Frank is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Abby, beloved grandsons Austin and Travis Hickerson, his Spirit of Peace family, many friends, Godson Chauncey Liston, devoted niece Chris Noyd, treasured brother Vince and his wife Sandy, brothers Howard, Leo (Lynn), Dan, John, Antone, brother-in-law RD Corette, sisters-in-law Patty Corette, Connie Kenney, and Jodi Corette, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law Holt Corette to whom he was devoted
Frank loved to think of this universe as being impregnated to the very core with the spirit and presence of God. He believed that we all return to the universe of stardust and spirit, and that is where he now resides.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 10, at 7 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. If you wish to do something in memory of Frank, please follow his lead and give a big tip to a deserving waiter or waitress.