By Liz Sullivan
During a lunchtime benefit for the Sacred Heart Nativity Schools friends, family, colleagues and supporters of the schools honored the man with the vision Father Mateo Sheedy.
On April 27, Para Los Niños Luncheon was held at Martha’s Kitchen adjacent to the schools. Sheedy, former pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in San Jose, passed away on October 20, 2000 at the age of 49 after a three-year battle with lung cancer.
It was Sheedy’s vision for the establishment of Sacred Heart Nativity School. The college prep school for boys opened a year after his death. In 2006, Our Lady of Grace Nativity School for girls opened.
The schools seek to lay the foundation for young women and men to succeed and break the cycle of poverty. In partnership with the Society of Jesus, the Diocese of San Jose and the Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus, the schools provide a transformative education during the critical middle school years that puts students on the path towards college completion.
“My heart is filled with joy to see all of you here,” said Sonya Arriola, President of Sacred Heart Nativity Schools about the 100 people or so who gathered for the luncheon after taking a tour of the school.
Also speaking at the luncheon was Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, a friend of Father Mateo, who said she first met him on a picket line.
“I see Father Mateo and I think of a warrior,” said Chavez. “I have such love and admiration for him. His approach was to demand not what we could do, but do more.”
The keynote address of the luncheon was given by Maria Socorro Castaneda-Liles, Ph.D., a religious studies professor at Santa Clara University. She first met Father Sheedy when she was a young student.
“For me Monsignor Mateo was a visionary,” said Castaneda-Liles. “He saw something in me that I did not see.”
Arriola said she plans on making this luncheon an annual event to showcase both the work of the students and the schools, as well as the vision of Monsignor Sheedy.