Father Matthias Lu, an internationally acclaimed scholar, teacher and translator and an Affiliated Member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, died June 25 in Napa. He was 89.
Father Matthias was a longtime member of the Saint Mary's College community. In 1963, he assumed the dual duties of assistant professor of philosophy and chaplain to the student Brothers at the Assumption Hall Scholasticate and to the faculty community. Beginning in 1966, Father Lu was chaplain to the Provincialate Community.
Father Matthias was also director of the International Saint Thomas Aquinas Center. He has done pioneering translations of Aquinas into Mandarin, and his commentaries on the works have been published in multiple editions. The website of the International Saint Thomas Aquinas Center at www.everyonesaquinas.org is a monument to Father Lu's conviction that Thomas Aquinas is "everyone's Aquinas," a universal teacher who speaks to ordinary people and whose works should be available to them.
In 1988, the Christian Brothers honored Father Matthias by naming him an Affiliated Member (AFSC) of their Institute. The priest spent his last years as a resident in the Holy Family Community of retired Christian Brothers at Mont La Salle in Napa.
Father Matthias was born near Peking, China, the fourth of 10 children. He entered Saint Joseph's Junior Seminary when he was 9. In 1938, he was awarded a scholarship from the Propagation of the Faith Society for higher studies at the Vatican. He studied in Rome from 1938 to 1946, earning a bachelor's in philosophy and theology, a licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate in philosophy. Father Matthias was ordained a priest in 1942 at the Urbanian Chapel in Rome by Cardinal Fumasoni Biondi.
After teaching in China for several years, Father Matthias engaged in postdoctoral studies in Toronto and Nova Scotia, becoming fluent in five languages: his native Chinese and Italian, Latin, French and English.
Along with his work and service at Saint Mary's College, Father Matthias served as chaplain for Chinese students at various colleges in the Bay Area. He was also vicar to Chinese and East Asian Catholics for the Diocese of Oakland, often helping with liturgies in Asian languages at several East Bay parishes.
Funeral services for Father Matthias will be on Sat., July 5, 2008, in the Mont La Salle Chapel, 4401 Redwood Road, Napa, California. Visitation will start at 9 a.m. in the Chapel Rotunda, followed by the funeral liturgy at 10 a.m. and burial in the Mont La Salle cemetery. Notes and remembrances may be sent to Archives, District of San Francisco, De La Salle Institute, 4401 Redwood Road, Napa, CA, 94558.
For more information on Father Matthias, go to http://www.everyonesaquinas.org/