An honor and a privilege to call him uncle - Catholic Courier

An honor and a privilege to call him uncle

After I was asked if I would be willing to write a testimonial on my uncle’s behalf, I called my mother, Helen, Uncle Matt’s sister. I asked her what a testimonial was. Is it funny stories? Or just what I think of Uncle Matt? She said to me, “What have I always told you girls before you sat down to write something?” I said, “Get a dictionary and scrap paper.” She told me that was correct. But I told her, “Well, I’m just going to Google it and type it on my computer.” She laughed and said, “Thank God for spell check!” So I did just that. I “Googled” “testimonial” and this is what I got … “A public tribute to someone and to their achievements.” So the following is what you get!

I was a little girl when Uncle Matt was installed as Bishop of Rochester. The only thing I can remember about that day is that where it was held there was an indoor pool and I got to wear a flower on my dress. I wish I could tell you it was a moving experience, or I was filled with so much pride and joy that day. But I have to tell the truth. I wanted to go into that indoor pool!!

I asked my children Kevin, who is 8, and Jenny, who is 6 … “When I say Uncle Matt what do you think of?” Kevin’s response was, “He really needs to work on his cursive writing; I can’t read anything he writes to us!” And Jenny said, “Him laughing when I do something bad and you’re yelling at me, and yelling at him!” When I think of Uncle Matt I think of all the titles he carries. Most Reverend Bishop Matthew Harvey Clark, Matt, Uncle Matt, Great Uncle Matt, The Harv, Brother and Friend.

Growing up, “Uncle Matt visits” were so much fun! We would swim in our pool; he would throw us in the water. We would go get ice cream in our PJs and just enjoy fooling with him. He was dealing with five girls and we gave him a run for his money. We knew if we heard him say “cool it” he meant business. He didn’t say it loud or often. But when it was said we all got it together and behaved like the angels we normally were.

I’ve always enjoyed my friendship with Uncle Matt. As a child I would enjoy his fooling with me about whose hair was curlier, and how wet my pillow was with tears from missing him. But as I got older I started to realize how much deeper my friendship with Uncle Matt would go. As a teen I got into some trouble … surprising, I know! Nothing serious — just a teenager testing the waters. But my mother shared the story with her brother … and a few days later I got a card in the mail from him pretty much making fun of me! His message made it clear to me that neither my folks nor he were dumb clucks!

As I moved on to adulthood, I struggled with a few things. My mom often said, “Why not talk to Uncle Matt?” I did and I continue to reach out to him. He gave me the tools on how to deal with many situations. Whenever I ask him a question or come to him upset, he always takes his time to answer, and the answer is always what I already knew. He has taught me we are all brothers and sisters, and that God loves us no matter what. What matters is our own personal relationship with the Lord.

With that being said … I have shared my uncle with so many people, all across the world. I have the honor and privilege to call him Uncle Matt, and my very best friend. Whenever I reach out to Uncle Matt, I always say to my Mom, “Man, Mom! You have an awesome brother!” And she always says, “I know I do!”

I have many, many stories to share about “The Harv” but I will keep them to myself. We have shared him with all the world for 50 years! And we’ll continue to share him with you. Just some stories are special between him and me. Thank you for giving him a wonderful family in Rochester for the past 33 years!

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