On Tuesday, October 30, Monk Cornelius (Mattei) of the Monastery of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite in Saint James, NY, reposed in the Lord. He was 68 years old.
Fr. Cornelius was born Raúl Antonio Mattei, the oldest of six children, to the late Reverend Raúl Herminio and Antonia Castillo Mattei, in Ponce, PR, on October 1, 1950. The family moved to Sewanee, TN and then to Vicksburg, MS, where he graduated high school.
Fr. Cornelius’ extensive college studies in the U.S. and France included multiple Master’s degrees and completed Ph.D. coursework in French Language, French Literature and Vocal Performance. His career included the teaching of music and singing as Tenor in the Opera. Ultimately, he became Director of Welfare for Jersey City, NJ. He converted to Orthodoxy in the late 1980s at Saints Peter and Paul Church (OCA) in Jersey City.
The musical ability of Fr. Cornelius was valuable to his church and later to the Monastery of Saint Mary of Egypt in New York, NY (Moscow Patriarchate), where in 2005 he became a novice and in 2008 was tonsured a Rassophore monk.
In late 2011, Fr. Cornelius moved with a group of monks to Holy Cross Monastery, now the Monastery of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite in Saint James, NY, under Archimandrite Maximos (Weimar). He struggled with multiple health complications over the last 10 years of his life, and finally succumbed to liver cancer on Tuesday, October 30.
Father is remembered fondly for his talents and wide-ranging interests, including music, cooking, literature, and the arts. His keen intellect and colorful personality will be especially missed. As his various illnesses progressed, he accepted the will of God and simply asked for everyone to offer prayers on his behalf.
May the memory of the newly-reposed Monk Cornelius be eternal!