Matti Terho was given a warm send-off by friends and colleagues as he took early retirement after nearly 25 years in Campus Ministry.
As a minister of the Finnish Lutheran church, Matti has been both an unofficial ambassador for Finland and a force for inclusiveness and acceptance here at Concordia. A partial guest list for the April 7 event gives an indication of Matti's wide range of interests.
There were fellow members of his volleyball team (Matti has been an avid athlete all his life); Professor Kaarina Kailo, with whom he has welcomed Finnish scholars and other Scandinavian visitors; the Lutheran chaplain of the University of Toronto; Rabbi Leigh Lerner, with whom he conducted a Jewish-Christian dialogue on various issues; and Ann Kerby, Director of Advocacy and Support Services, with whom he worked on a task force on gay and lesbian life.
Two inmates and a chaplain of the prison system expressed their gratitude for Matti's initiative in starting the long-standing program that gives student volunteers the opportunity to visit men in prison.
Matti developed a protocol for dealing with the deaths of students, and has been a consoling presence for bereaved parents. Like the other members of Campus Ministry, he has helped hundreds of students in need of food, counselling and other help.
Kerby said later that Matti's strong, caring presence was especially valuable during the months following the 1992 shootings, when nerves were raw. "He was always very generous towards people not attached to a church," she added. "He's a person of great charm and integrity."
Terho has bought a farm in Ontario, where he will probably enjoy a typically active retirement with his new wife, Sylvia.