The Rev. Canon Matthew Thomas Locy Corkern
Published 3:30 pm Monday, June 6, 2022
Dec. 14, 1972 to April 24, 2022
With deep sadness, yet in the sure and certain promise of eternal life through the Resurrection, the family of the Rev. Canon Matthew T. L. Corkern share that he died early on Sunday morning, April 24, 2022. Matthew, 49, endured a difficult struggle with the rare combination of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia. A native Mississippian, Matthew was a dedicated Episcopal Priest with a heart and passion for the ministry of Christ’s love through pastoral care and spiritual formation. In parish, national, and international church ministry in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, he served faithfully from 2001 until his death.
Matthew was born on December 14, 1972, in Brookhaven, Mississippi, to Thomas Locy Corkern Jr. and Rebecca Coleman Corkern of Brookhaven. After graduating from Brookhaven High School with honors in 1991, Matthew attended the University of Richmond where he earned a BA with dual majors (1995) in Leadership Studies (Jepson Leadership School) and History. He was Awarded the Mace Award for Most Outstanding Senior. Matthew later earned an MA in History (concentration 18th and 19th Century British history) from the University of Richmond.
In 2001, Matthew earned his Master of Divinity at Yale University along with certificates in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and Anglican Liturgy and Spirituality from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Matthew served as seminarian at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, New Canaan, CT (1999-2001), and was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Virginia on June 24, 2001. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 29, 2001, in the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC, by the Right Reverend Peter Lee. He was the Associate Rector for Adult Education of St. John’s Church in McLean, VA (2001-2004), the Canon Residentiary of Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, TN (2004-2009), the 16th Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Mobile, AL (2009-2011) and the 13thRector of Calvary Church in Summit, NJ (2011-2020).
In addition to his parish work, Matthew faithfully served in various leadership capacities in the Episcopal dioceses of Virginia, Tennessee, the Central Gulf Coast, and Newark. For seven years, Matthew was National Chaplain of the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church. He was an officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, served on the Graduate Society Council of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, led retreats through the Washington National Cathedral Association, and assisted in the formation of regular retreat days at The Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. Most recently Matthew served as Trustee and Executive Chair of FOCCUS, Friends of Canterbury Cathedral U.S. He also worked with The Compass Rose Society.
Matthew said that his love of ministry was “to consistently ground the parish in scripture, history, and love as Christians while maintaining who we are called to be as Episcopalians and Anglicans. As a parish and a community, we are always called to serve Christ and the needs of each other and all God’s people locally, regionally, and across the nation and globe.”
He understood that the church must recognize all ages and center all ministry in prayer, liturgy, education, fellowship, and outreach. He also believed that parishes needed to be involved in the wider community and encouraged his parishioners to work with city leaders in interfaith councils, outreach, cultural events for arts and music to create sacred space for the city and opportunities for at-risk youth. He was dedicated to building strong foundations for stewardship and parish administration which led to the restoration of several historic church properties and campuses.
Perhaps most important to his own spiritual life was his love for pilgrimage which grew from his time at Berkeley when he and a fellow classmate, inaugurated an annual pilgrimage to Great Britain. Throughout his life, he continued this passion and dedication with annual pilgrimages to Canterbury Cathedral, heart of the Anglican Communion. Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Robert Willis, and dear friends of this holy place blessed and sustained Matthew along his earthly pilgrim journey.
In his ministry of 20 years, Matthew led 45 pilgrimages to Great Britain, Israel, Western Europe, Albania, and many off-the-beaten paths of the world where ancient holy people and Christians walked, prayed, and spread the Gospel of Christ. His pilgrim heart wanted individuals and groups to build upon their own personal, prayerful, passionate relationships with Jesus Christ. Matthew embraced each pilgrim path, cathedral, and church for its uniqueness but most of all valued new pilgrim friends encountered in these. These spiritual journeys were transformational for all who participated and resulted in the formation of a strong community of pilgrim friends through the years.
Matthew is remembered by all who knew him as a deeply devoted and faithful believer with a passion for liturgy and scripture, a superb intellect, boundless energy, and a smile that radiated joy and great generosity of spirit. As priest, pilgrim, historian, genealogist, avid reader and writer, Matthew often reminded people “life is not measured in its length, but in its depth.”
A friend recently said, “Matthew touched many lives through his ministry. He was a special man with the ability to see in others their potential, the presence of God in all of us, and the best that we could be.”
Matthew is survived by his parents and his brother, Jeremy Coleman Corkern of Birmingham, AL, and his son Preston Coke-Corkern. He was predeceased by his beloved grandparents, Thomas Locy Corkern Sr. and Iris Koepp Corkern of Bogalusa, LA, and Alvin Eugene Coleman and Louise May Coleman, of Mendenhall, MS, as well as family friend, Arthur Eggers, Colorado Springs, CO.
He will be celebrated and remembered by his parents, brother, cherished friend, Mrs. Constance Eggers, of Colorado Springs, CO and his aunts and uncles: Hilda May Coleman of Mendenhall, MS, Edward Corkern of West Monroe, LA, Mike and Linda Corkern of Bogalusa, LA, Paul and Elyse Corkern of Barranquilla, Columbia, numerous beloved cousins and extended Corkern, Koepp and Coleman family, as well as friends and colleagues from around the world.
A Celebration of Matthew’s life will be at 11 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, MS, with a reception to follow. His ashes will be interred at Noon on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at St. Joseph Abbey, Covington, LA, with a reception to follow.
To further the legacy of the life and ministry of the Rev. Matthew Corkern, his beloved family and friends have created a trust in his name to provide scholarships and support to schools and ministries close to his heart.
Contributions may be sent to:
The Rev. Canon Matthew T.L. Corkern Trust
Wells Fargo Advisors
1020 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 100
Ridgeland, MS 39157