Monday, September 29, 2008

Fr. John C. Martins - R.I.P.

The Diocese of Fall River lost a good priest last week. Although he never served at a parish where I belonged or worked, Father Martins was very good friends with my childhood parish priest. Because of their friendship, he was one of the priests who had a great influence on my life.
I first met Fr. Martins when I was about 14 years old. At the time he was the most conservative priest knew. He would tell me long rants about the evils of the "modern" way of thinking and approaches to Catholicism. He was relentless in his attempt to impress upon his parishioners the importance of maintaining an active faith life and was never afraid to tell it to people like it is.

His influence caused me to question the squishy theology I was taught in CCD and gave me the courage to stand up to certain CCD teachers. I wish I could list all the ways he helped me, but this post would be unending.

I will miss this great priest, and dear friend who taught me to never be afraid to speak the truth.

Pe. Martins, levem-te os anjos ao paraíso; à tua chegada, recebam-te os mártires e introduzam-te na cidade santa de Jerusalém.

Rev. John Cipriano Martins, retired pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fall River, passed away on Friday.

Born in Sao Sebastiao, Terceira, Azores, he was the son of the late Joao M. and Rita (Ferreira) Martins. After studying at Angra Seminary in Terceira, he was ordained on April 10, 1955 by the late Prelate Rt. Rev. Bishop Manuel A. Carvalho.

Later that year his first assignment in this country was as a Curate at St. Anthony of Padua Church where he remained until 1965. At the time, he was the youngest priest in the Fall River Diocese. Fr. Martins went on to serve as Curate at St. Anthony Parish, E. Falmouth; Curate at St. Elizabeth, Fall River; Assistant Pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Taunton; Administrator at St. Peter Parish, Provincetown; Administrator (for 12 years) at Our Lady of Health Parish, Fall River; Pastor at Santo Christo Parish and returning to St. Anthony of Padua as Pastor in 1994.

He was the brother of Miquelina Fagundes, Rita Coelho and the late Maria Jose Paiva and uncle of Lucia Drumonde, Maria Coelho, Jose M. Paiva, Teresina Dinis, John C. Paiva, Marilou Gouveia and Anne Gendreau.

His concelebrated Funeral Mass will be offered in St. Anthony of Padua Church, Bedford St. on Thursday at 11:00 AM followed by his committal service at Notre Dame Cemetery Mausoleum.

His body will lie in state at the church on Wednesday from 3:00 to 8:00 PM. Please omit flowers.

Donations may be made in his memory to Diabetes Assoc., PO Box 1525, Fall River 02722.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foolishness to Catholics

In class last week we were discussing the early Roman Martyrs, in particular Felicity and Perpetua. One woman in the class announced that she really didn't give her faith much importance but she thought that martyrdom was "the stupidest thing on earth". It wasn't so much what she said, as the contempt and anger she showed toward the martyrs that got to me.

Throughout history our world has been shaped by those who were willing to give their lives for what they believed in. Would this woman have shown such contempt for soldiers who lost thier lives in battle, or for those who died in the civil rights movement? I seriously doubt it.

Those are noble causes worth dying for, but to her and so many others, faith is something they can take or leave. As she said, her own faith didn't mean anything to her. God works in great and mysterious ways because there is a young Vietamese sister in my class who talked about Catholic martyrs in her country and throughout Asia. It was amazing to see the complete change of heart the woman had when she heard about current persecutions of Christians.

Here in America, we take our religious liberty for granted and in a way it can cause it to mean less to us. We need to spread the message of our suffering brother and sisters in faith to remind us how lucky we are to be able to choose to believe or not.