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Father Mathew d’Hereaux (Fatima Years: 1985 to 1992) holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Psychology from The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
He also holds a Licenciate in Moral Theology from the Alfonsian Academy in Rome (2007-2009), and a Doctorate in Moral Theology from the Catholic Social Teaching Alfonsian Academy in Rome (2009 -2011).
Q. Why did you select Fatima?
I selected Fatima not only because I thought it to be the best school in Port of Spain but also because of the fierce rivalry with Saints at my Primary School, Newtown Boys’ RC. I was on the pro-Fatima side and would not think of any other school as my first choice.
Q. How was your experience at Fatima?
My experience at Fatima in retrospect was amazing. It met all my expectations as a school, and had an extremely positive impact on me as a teenager. I never did NOT want to go school. School was just positive and a good place to be.
Q. Did you play any sports or take part in any extracurricular activities?
I played basketball after school and hockey for PE.
Q. What subjects did you do for ‘A’ Levels and why?
I had the political ambition to be Prime Minister one day and, so at A levels I did Economics, Accounts and Geography as a stepping-stone to tertiary level studies in Political Science, Economics and Urban Planning.
Q. What is the most valuable lesson that you learnt at Fatima?
Hard work pays off and don’t be afraid of it.
Q. If all your teachers or the priests were still there, who would you check first on visiting Fatima today?
Q. Have you been able to maintain friendships with your classmates since school?
I have kept up friendships with a few guys from my year group and contact them from time to time.
Q. Tell us about your journey after Fatima.
One word describes my Fatima journey: Balance. It was a balance between academics, self-discipline, physical education and spirituality.
Q. When did you start to think about being a priest and what sealed your decision?
I started seriously thinking about being a priest in Upper Six. I went to the Seminary after teaching for 16 months, but it was my time in the Seminary which sealed my decision.
Q. What was your main take away from your time in Rome?
The Roman Catholic Church is really founded and sustained by the Lord; it is universal and definitely guided by God. The pilgrimages reminded me that people are still seeking God amidst secularism, agnosticism and atheism.
Q. You took over as St. Joseph parish priest in 2018 and your main project became the restoration of the St. Joseph Church whose structure was deteriorating. The church, having been built in 1815, was over 200 years old. Has that project been completed?
Unfortunately, we have not yet finished for two main reasons: firstly, the pandemic that caused a slowdown in financing, as well as actual physical work because of lockdowns; and secondly, because of the termite damage that was/is so extensive.
Q. In a June 2018 Catholic News article, Archbishop Gordon was quoted as saying the following: “Within 15 years, 28 priests now in active diocesan service will retire. We now have over 10 parishes without a resident priest. It takes seven to eight years for a man to discern his vocation and be ordained. These are the facts. We have a crisis!”. Around that time, you took over as head of the Aspirancy Programme (aspirancy being a 6-month period of a young man living with others who feel called to the Church but who have not yet entered Seminary. Among your responsibilities as head, was: replacing the dwindling ranks of the Catholic priests. How has that progressed? Is there still a crisis?
Vocations Ministry is like building a cathedral or carving something out of wood or stone. It is an art. It takes time, energy, imagination and determination. From that point of view, it is going well because the archdiocese is expending a lot of resources on this Ministry. And yes, to be honest there is still a crisis because the ministry of service is so ever-changing in our complex world, so we will really never have enough priests. That’s why Jesus said the harvest is rich but the labourers are few.
Q. Tell us about the challenges you have faced with the COVID-19 pandemic.
My main challenge was keeping food on the table for people in need of food support and keeping the parish of St. Joseph/Mt D’or animated. More personally, I love family gatherings and the movies, so lockdown did a number on me in that way.
Q. Do you have any advice for the young men at Fatima, or for recent graduates?
Always leave room for God; faith is not for the weak; do the right thing and the charitable thing, even when it is the hard thing to do.
Q. Favorite sports? Favorite teams?
Football. World Cup is my thing and I am an avid supporter of Brazil.
Q. Any hobbies?
The movies, hiking, hanging out at a beach-house and making pasta.
Q. Favorite Sunday lunch?
Stew pork, macaroni pie and lentils.
Q. What does ‘Nitendo Vinces’ mean to you?
Never stop trying; it is better you try and fail, than fail to try.
Q. How did it feel to be inducted into the Fatima College Hall of Achievement?
Surprised by it all. I never thought of it actually until I was called.
Q. Any closing remarks?
“Fatima, don’t lower our current standards. In fact, aim higher.”
See Father d’Hereaux’s induction into the 2020 Fatima Hall of Achievement here.