By Shaun Lucas
A memorial service was held for late Millersville freshman and actor Matthew Mindler on September 9 at the Student Memorial Center’s Sablinski Atrium. Multiple speakers reflected on Matthew’s passing, including Matthew’s mother Monica Mindler, reflecting on Matthew’s life leading up to his last days.
Around 5:25 p.m., five minutes before the memorial began, a large crowd of both Millersville students and faculty gathered both inside the atrium and around the front desk of the SMC. The atrium was decorated with candles, along with a table holding i
Campus Minister John Birkenbine gave an opening statement. He gives his condolences to Matthew’s family, and mentions that compassion is an essential trait among Millersville students and staff. Birkinbine reminded attendees of the available services available, such as Campus Ministries, for those mourning Matthew’s loss and/or are struggling with mental health.
Brian Hazlett, Millersville Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, then introduces University President Daniel Wuhbah to the podium.
“We offer our thoughts of comfort to Matthew’s family,” Wubah said. “In moments like these, we all must stand together, as we all feel a deep sense of loss for Matthew.”
As he did during the press conference announcing Matthew’s death, Wubah thanked the law enforcement who were able to locate Matthew’s body. Wubah also ensured that he and the rest of Millersville would “continue to pray for the peace and comfort” of Matthew’s family.
Hazlett once again took the podium, saying he wanted attendees to get to know Matthew more through the service. He also reminds students that they are not alone and should never be afraid to ask for help.
“Listening to each other with compassion makes a difference,” Hazlett said.
Monica Mindler then took the stand, after an introduction from Hazlett. Monica thanked the attendees and Millersville staff, stating she gained deep appreciation for Millersville after her son’s suicide. She discussed how, throughout his life, Matthew always dealt with high anxiety in finding his place in the world. Monica also mentions why Matthew began his acting career.
“He simply wanted to make more than he made when he did chores around the house,” Monica said.
After acting, Monica stated that Matthew wanted to live a normal life on campus, with him rarely mentioning his past acting career since he wanted people to like him for who he was after acting. Matthew found belonging in online groups, but then gained personal connections at Millersville. Monica heard from him that he had a great beginning over freshmen orientation weekend.
In an emotional conclusion, Monica reminded attendees that they are “more than their careers,” and that nobody should feel ashamed to ask for help or discuss their problem. Monica also stated the importance of including others.
“You never know what someone is dealing with,” Monica began. “When you walk past someone alone in the hallways or sitting by themselves at lunch, don’t be afraid to talk to them.”
After thanking her for her words, Birkenbine played a heartfelt video tribute with pictures of Matthew from early childhood to his first days on campus. He then gave a concluding prayer, and attendees were free to talk and write reflection cards to Matthew’s family.