Family, friends remember East Bay Pastor killed in Colusa County car crash


CONCORD (KRON) — “I’ve been depressed ever since,” Ernie Lopez said. “Father Matt, we have been everywhere together.”

Most knew Father Mathew Vellankal as a priest, but Ernie Lopez knew him as a person.

“He had a sense of humor,” Lopez said. “When I hiked with him at Immigrant Wilderness the very first time, we hiked for two hours and he did not stop telling joke after joke after joke.”

Vellankal known as father Mat loved telling jokes — he wrote a book about them.

Lopez said the pastor was also a skilled magician.

“He was an on stage close up magician,” he said. “He was even with the association he was so good.”

Vellankal was killed in a car crash Thursday in Colusa County, just east of Clearlake.

The pastor was riding with an Archbishop visiting from India who also died in the crash.

Another priest, Father Joseph of St. Anne Parish in Walnut Creek survived and is recovering at a Santa Rosa hospital.

The Diocese of Oakland shared news of the crash on Facebook.

Vellankal worked at Saint Bonaventure church in Concord, Vellankal joined the Diocese in 2002 after coming to the states from India.

He served two churches in Concord and two churches in Fremont.

Father Mathew Vellenkal was 61 years old.

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