Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Matthew T. Gamber, SJ, who passed away on October 16, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 61 years old. May he rest in peace.
Fr. Gamber is survived by his mother, Ruth Henneman Gamber; four siblings: Mark (Mary Jo), William (Linda), Robert (Suzan), and Mary Margaret; seven nieces and nephews; and one great nephew. He is preceded in death by his father, Mark J. Gamber, and brother, Lawrence (Carol).
Matthew was born on August 26, 1959, in Evanston, Illinois. Before entering the Society of Jesus, he graduated in 1977 from Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marquette University (1981). Matthew entered the Society of Jesus on September 11, 1983, at Berkley, Michigan. He was ordained on June 10, 1995, at St. Ignatius Church in Chicago, and professed his final vows on September 2, 2018 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Matthew earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago (1988), a master’s of divinity from Weston Jesuit School of Theology (1994), and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (1996). Matthew earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (1997).
During regency, Matt taught Social Studies and French, as well as coached tennis, at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago (1988-1991). After ordination and earning his journalism degree, Matt was the assistant director for media relations and a journalism instructor at Xavier University (1997-2000). He spent a year in doctoral studies at Marquette University before becoming associate director of campus ministry at Gonzaga University (2001-2004). Matthew left higher education to become an associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois (2004-2007) before becoming development officer at his alma mater, Loyola Academy (2007-2009). After a year internship at the Vatican Radio and Catholic News Service in Rome, Italy (2010), Matt made tertianship in Weston, Massachusetts.
After tertianship, Matthew returned to pastoral ministry: he was an associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cincinnati (2010) and at St. Walter Parish in Roseville, Illinois, (2011) before becoming a chaplain at Mount St. Joseph Home in Lake Zurich, Illinois (2012). Matt decided to return to secondary education and taught for two years at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida (2012-2014). Matt realized he had a pastor’s heart, and was missioned to Cincinnati where he was appointed parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Church (2015-2020) before beginning his duties as a chaplain at St. Xavier High School in August 2020.
Matthew was a gifted journalist and writer. He was published in the National Catholic Register, Catholic World Report, and Catholic Herald. Matt was a kind man with a curious mind, a big heart, an infectious laugh, and a deep love for God and his Jesuit vocation as a companion of Jesus. Matt loved being a priest and a channel of God’s healing graces and love for the people he served. He led a profoundly spiritual life, with a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Matt loved accompanying youth around the globe to World Youth Days, and took seriously the devotion of the Society of Jesus to serve the mission of the Holy Father. He had a deep personal devotion to St. John Paul II and to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Matt was also a fervent supporter of the pro-life movement. Throughout his life, Matt was a “connector,” who most enjoyed introducing friends to friends, and easily made friends with people from all corners of the world. Matt loved nothing better than helping lead others to the Lord. While he was not a sports fan himself, his family marveled at the great tickets he was able to procure through generous friendships, and many were jealous that he attended two of the White Sox World Series games in 2005. He had a huge “sweet tooth” and could be counted on knowing the addresses of the best bakeries in whichever town he lived.