What sort of legacy could an Irish American pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in San José possibly leave to an entire immigrant community? As it turned out, quite a large one.
In commemoration of the 19th anniversary of his death, on October 21, Sacred Heart Nativity Schools welcomed friends, supporters, family members, and community leaders to join in a Celebration Luncheon to honor Father Mateo Sheedy’s legacy.
In 1997, Father Mateo struck a deal with Santa Clara University to secure an annual scholarship for one parish youth to attend. However, he quickly realized that the neighborhood children were not prepared to pursue any form of higher education. That motivated him not only to open Sacred Heart Nativity School but also inspired the opening of other charter schools in the area. He was a beacon for social justice and a champion for equality in education.
At this celebration, over 150 guests enjoyed student-led campus tours, observed a robotics club project, picked up a handmade rosary from Campus Ministry, learned about the schools’ Athletics program, and were entertained by student Folklórico Dancers.
Jesús Piceno, a graduate of the first Nativity class of 2004 and a current board member, shared how the legacy of Father Mateo was ever-present during his time at the school. Jesús and his classmates became the first to benefit from Father Mateo’s desire to provide a college preparatory education to break the cycle of poverty through education for students in the parish boundaries.
The attendees also heard from two Nativity eighth-grade students, Emely Garate and Angel Paez who shared the impact that Nativity School has had on them and their families.
To conclude the afternoon, school president, Deacon Rubén Solorio, presented the Father Mateo Sheedy Visionary Award to the amazing team of Nativity volunteer tutors and mentors, in gratitude for the tremendous support that they provide to the students.
Sadly, while Father Mateo did not live to see Sacred Heart Nativity Schools open, his spirit is very much alive today in the classrooms and hallways. And yes, each year, a student from the parish continues to receive a scholarship to Santa Clara University.
Courtesy of Sacred Heart Nativity Schools.