Obituary for Esther Diane Smith

May 4, 2024

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The Reverend Esther Diane Smith passed away peacefully at her home in Fullerton, California on April 4, 2024 from natural causes. Mother Diane, as she was known by members of Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church, is survived by her sister Sharon, her brother Richard and wife Mary, and their two grown children Sarah and AJ.

Born on December 22, 1945 and raised in Fullerton, Diane attended Golden Hill Elementary School, Nicolas Junior High School, and Sunny Hills High School.  She excelled in school as a young person but loved  the Y.W.C.A. camp program most of all. From camper, to camp counselor, to camp staffer in charge of the Devotions and Rag Program, one might say her first ministry began at Camp Osceola in the San Bernadino Mountains in Southern California. During her studies at California State University, Fullerton she became interested in philosophy, and later earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University. While working on her dissertation, she taught philosophy at CSUF part-time starting at the age of 23. Soon after completing her degree, she was hired at Modesto Junior College.  During this time, she felt a calling to the priesthood and began seminary training the summer of 1979 at CDSP, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley where she completed her Masters of Divinity. However, this calling was not fulfilled until much later in her life. Rather, she a found a position at Diablo Valley College and stayed there for 23 years.  She taught and later became dean of two separate divisions. It was at this time that she returned to a childhood passion for horses, and began a business breeding and showing Arabians.

It was not until she retired from her academic life that she discovered Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church.  She moved back to Fullerton, became very involved in the church and was ordained a priest in 2016. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding Saint Cyprian School of Theology. Mother Diane was greatly appreciated and respected for all of her work at Saint Matthew and will be fondly remembered by many.

Several options are available for those who would like to pay their respects to Esther Diane Smith as follows.


Friday, May 10, 2024 at 5:00 pm, Rosary  7:30 pm

McAulay and Wallace Mortuary

902 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA  92832

Funeral Service and Reception:

Saturday May 11, 2024 at 2:00 pm

Saint Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Church

1111 W. Town and Country Road, Orange CA 92868

Graveside Ceremony:

Monday, May 13, 2024 at 11:00

Memory Garden Memorial Park

455 West Central Avenue, Brea, California 92821

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